By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
AMES — A private conversation involving two guys named "Fennelly" accurately sums up Iowa State’s 72-54 win over Texas Tech on Wednesday night in Hilton Coliseum.
After the Iowa State women’s basketball team’s 66-59 overtime win over the 1-14 Missouri Tigers on Tuesday, assistant coach Billy Fennelly hugged his father and said, “In February, every team has these games. Some people win and some people lose."
The Cyclone women won, escaping with an extra-session victory over the last place Tigers.
Fred Hoiberg’s bunch got the W in a similar scenario Wednesday night, but didn’t need overtime to stave off a pesky Texas Tech team. Don’t let the box score from this one fool you though. Iowa State’s 18-point win over the 1-13 Red Raiders did not come easy.
Texas Tech led the Cyclones 32-28 at the half, but suffocating defense set the tone for Iowa State in the second session. The Red Raiders to only two points (both free throws) in the last 7:58 of the game.
“I really thought that we turned up the heat," said Hoiberg. "I give them a lot of credit for responding after that first half. They were just too comfortable. They came down and had open looks. They were getting what they wanted in the post. They were getting offensive rebounds. Three things that just can’t happen, especially on your home court. We came out and fixed that.”
As a result, the Cyclones ended the contest on a 17-2 run and Iowa State won its 20th game of the regular-season for only the sixth time in school history.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Royce White – Here’s how you know when a guy is good…
When he quietly (let me stress the word quietly) ends a game two assists shy of a triple-double.
Royce White scored 13 points along with his 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Iowa State victory. His 3-of-9 performance from the free throw line provided a few shaky moments, but multiple tomahawk dunks, some gaudy passes and one incredible ball-handeling moment energized his team and a sluggish crowd when it needed them the most.
Still, White wasn’t at all pleased with his offensive performance after the game.
"The way that I shot free throws was inexcusable," said White. "I was able to get some easy baskets that my teammates created for me, some easy dunks and some stuff on the breaks."
According to White’s head coach, the super-sophmore was too hard on himself after going 5-of-7 from the field.
“I don’t think that he played a bad game," said Hoiberg. "I thought he was very effective, especially those last eight minutes when he was controlling the glass. He was getting out, pushing the ball and he is such a key in our transition game the way that he finds guys."
It was White’s eighth double-double of the season and 15th game with five or more assists.
Second half – A few more very telling statistics from Iowa State’s dominating second half.
— Points: Iowa State 44, Texas Tech 22
— Rebounds: Iowa State 21, Texas Tech 7
— Iowa State shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second period compared to Texas Tech’s 34.8 percent mark.
Melvin Ejim – This is a guy who could have easily earned Player of the Game honors. After dinging up his shoulder and being ejected from Saturday’s win over Oklahoma, Ejim responded by going 7-of-9 from the field, scoring 17 points and recording five rebounds as well.
“If he was too sore to play, he would have let us know," said Hoiberg. "He said ‘Coach, I’m ready. I can give you anything that you want.’ He went out and proved it, especially in that second half.”
Chris Babb’s defense – Texas Tech’s Ty Nurse led all scorers with 15 points in the first half. Ty Nurse ended the game with 15 points. What in the world happened?
Iowa State changed its game plan at halftime. That’s when Hoiberg assigned his ace defender Chris Babb to Nurse, who only got off four shots in the second period and missed them all.
Slow start – Texas Tech actually led this game 21-12 with 11:07 to play in the first half. Iowa State allowed a 1-13 basketball team to gain confidence early and that momentum bled into the second half before the Cyclones eventually put Tech away for good.
Chris Babb’s offense – Yes. Chris Babb was once against fantastic on defense. But his offensive game continued to struggle, as Babb went 0-for-6 from the field (all missed 3-pointers). Babb’s scoring average on the season is now down to 8.4 points per game.
In Iowa State’s last 12 games, Babb has only scored in double digits once (at Oklahoma).
FT’s/3-point shooting – Nobody talks about free throws in an 18-point win, but Iowa State missed 10 of them (16-26) on Wednesday.
Iowa State’s six made 3-pointers was its second lowest mark from long range during the conference portion of the season. The Cyclones went 5-of-21 from long range at Texas on Jan. 24.