Jan 4, 2017; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart reacts against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half at the Frank Erwin Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
The most inconsistent team in the Big 12 is set to visit Hilton Coliseum on Saturday and they will do it coming off one of its better wins of the season.
The Texas Longhorns (7-7, 1-1 Big 12) evened their conference record with an 82-79 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday after opening league play with a 65-62 loss on the road at Kansas State.
Shaka Smart’s squad trailed the Cowboys at halftime but battled back behind solid performances from sophomores Tevin Mack (27 points) and Eric Davis, who scored 16 points off the bench.
“I liked that our guys stayed in the fight,” Smart said on Thursday’s Big 12 teleconference. “There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs during the course of a game, individually and as a team. There’s some things that don’t always go your way, but our guys stayed with it. Oklahoma State has some really good playmakers and when they make plays you can’t get down about it. You got to keep playing and I thought our guys did that.”
According to KenPom.com, Texas’ trip to Ames to take on Iowa State will be its toughest test yet this season. The Cyclones, who are ranked No. 26 on the site, are the Longhorns’ highest-rated opponent and the only the second team they’ve faced that currently sits inside KenPom’s top-30.
The Longhorns will roll into Hilton Coliseum with a young roster that includes five freshmen or sophomores inside the regular rotation. Mack, who is averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game, and sophomore guard Kerwin Roach Jr., the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.9 points and leading assister with 3.2 per game, lead a group that are almost polar opposites of the Cyclones.
“Iowa State’s got a really good team,” Smart said. “Obviously, a lot of older guards. They do a great job controlling the game and making plays, led by Monte Morris, but certainly doesn’t stop with him. It’s a great challenge for us. I think what we’ve learned already in this league is every game is going to be a heck of a challenge when you go on the road you have to deal with a hostile environment. Hopefully, our guys feel good about some of the good things that they did (Wednesday) in our game and hopefully we can build on that.”
Iowa State and Texas will tip-off on Saturday night at 8:15 on ESPN2.