Cyclones head to Texas with win streak in mind

Cameron Lard tosses the ball back to the top of the key during Iowa State’s 70-52 over No. 8 Texas Tech. 

Aaron Marner

Iowa State has a short turnaround between Saturday’s game against Texas Tech and Monday’s game at Texas, but based on how Saturday went for coach Steve Prohm’s squad, that may not be a bad thing.

The Cyclones dismantled No. 8 Texas Tech by 18 points, the largest margin of victory over an AP Top 10 team in school history.

It was a remarkable turnaround after a 23-point loss at TCU last Wednesday. And that’s the focal point for Iowa State (11-7, 2-5 Big 12) at Texas (12-7, 3-4 Big 12) Monday night at 6 p.m: don’t have a similar reversal in effort and focus.

“You can’t get too low on losses and you can’t get too high on wins,” said junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb. “We didn’t play very well at TCU. We were upset about that one and mad about that one for the day, but the next day we had to get back in the gym and grind.

“After a win like [over Texas Tech] you gotta come back tomorrow, get ready, watch film, and then we have another great team coming on Monday.”

The importance of Monday’s game in Austin can’t be overstated.

Prohm has made it clear that the postseason is still the expectation for this year’s team. If Iowa State wants to play somewhere besides Kansas City this March, a win tomorrow is essential.

The Cyclones are without a true road win this season. Getting one at Texas would be huge for the Cyclones’ resume and it would boost them in the Big 12 standings.

“We’ve won at neutral sites but we usually have an Iowa State contingent,” Prohm said. “We’ve won big games at home. We’ve got to grow up at some point and take that next step.”

Prohm said winning in the paint, on the glass and at the free throw line are the ways to win on the road.

Against Texas, that will be a challenge. The Longhorns won in Ames at the beginning of January even though they lost the rebounding battle and shot only 68.8 percent at the free throw line.

But what worked for Texas may not be what works for Iowa State. For the Cyclones, the key is to simply focus on themselves.

“We’ve gotta be about us and building our habits,” Prohm said.

Iowa State’s identity has slowly become more and more clear. Roles have been established. New players, such as freshmen Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard, have emerged.

Weiler-Babb has become a leader. Donovan Jackson’s performance has become more consistent in recent weeks. He’s reached double-figures in 10 of Iowa State’s last 12 games after failing to reach 10 points until Iowa State’s third game of the season. And finally, Iowa State is getting some production off the bench, thanks to Zoran Talley Jr.

Talley Jr. tied his season-high with 11 points against Texas Tech. Going forward, Iowa State needs to have production from players who aren’t in the starting lineup.

When Iowa State and Texas went to overtime in Ames, bench scoring was pretty close. Texas got 23 bench points to Iowa State’s 21, but all 21 of Iowa State’s bench points came from Cameron Lard. Lard, of course, is now in the starting lineup.

Talley Jr. did not play against Texas in round one, so maybe he’s the key to victory for the Cyclones.

“At the end of the day you have to be ready when your number’s called,” Talley Jr. said. “You never know.”