No. 7 Cyclones face another top-15 challenge at home against No. 15 Longhorns


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Morgan Kane shoots a free throw during the Cy-Hawk game Dec. 8.

Aaron Hickman

Following a 2-0 week on the road that bumped them up to No. 7 in the country, the Cyclones are back at home for another tough matchup against No. 15 Texas Longhorns.

The Longhorns come to Ames tied for fourth in the Big 12 with a 2-2 conference record (wins against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, losses against Texas Tech and Kansas). Iowa State is undefeated in conference play and holds sole possession of first place.

But there are more than just this season’s conference implications to this meeting.

Iowa State’s last win against Texas came nearly two years ago in February of 2020, with the team having three straight losses to its southern counterpart since then.

“We have really smart kids,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “They understand we lost to Texas three times last year. Two of them we weren’t real competitive and the last one was a great game in the Big 12 Tournament. I think that’s the nature of when you grow as a player and grow as a team, you try and find things to get better, and certainly playing against Texas we have to be better.”

Fennelly also stressed the importance of not getting too high or too low when going through the grind of conference play.

You can get all kinds of results game in and game out as a conference season wears on. Staying the course and continuing to improve is the key to success, which Iowa State has been able to do so far this season.

With students returning to Ames for the spring semester, the buzz of the town is alive and well. For both Iowa State basketball programs, it means Hilton Coliseum has a new energy to it.

Getting back into a routine is something that Fennelly believes is good for his players. During the break, basketball was done in a much more professional manner. Since there was no school to worry about, some extra time shooting or working out was a productive way to fill those extra hours.

“The life that a campus has when the students come back is great,” Fennelly said. “It’s the vibe of it. They are college students, and it’s time to go to class. I just think when you get back into that routine it’s better.”

The Cyclones already reached a milestone this season by going 16-1 for the first time in program history. Against Texas, they will have a chance to start 6-0 in conference play for the first time.

Once again, not getting too high or too low is what’s on every player’s mind.

“I think it’s extra motivation and it’s a great added bonus, but that can’t impact the way that we play and make us play differently,” Morgan Kane said. “I remember Coach Fen saying: ‘The teams that win get soft and the teams that lose get hard,’ and we can’t be that team. We’ve got to keep winning and keep staying hard.”