Feb 2, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Marial Shayok (3) drives past Texas Longhorns guard Kerwin Roach II (12) at Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Austin, Texas
KenPom Prediction: 71-70, Texas
1 – Road Dawgs
Nick Weiler-Babb could end his Iowa State career with wins in nine out of 10 of the Big 12 arenas, but, in order to do that, it starts with a win on Saturday in Austin. The Cyclones are just 2-14 all-time at Texas with their last win coming in 2014-15, prior to Weiler-Babb joining the program.
What makes Texas such a hard place for Iowa State to play? He says it is pretty simple.
“They’re a good team. Good teams play good at home,” Weiler-Babb said. “I think it’s just playing on the road is harder than playing at home, too.”
A win on Saturday would give the Cyclones their fifth Big 12 road win the season, equalling their total from the 2016-17 season. It would also be the team’s sixth road win overall, equalling for the most since the program’s Big 12 championship 2000-01 season.
Double up a win in Austin with a win in Morgantown next week and Weiler-Babb gets his win in 90 percent of the Big 12 arenas.
“It would be a big road win for us. They’re a really good team,” Weiler-Babb said. “Just going down there, being really confident and playing like we have to in order to win that game.”
2 – Missing Kerwin
Steve Prohm said he has not seen much of a change in the way Texas plays since losing leading-scorer Kerwin Roach to a suspension prior to the team’s loss to Oklahoma last week. It is unclear when Roach will return to the team, but he is not expected to play on Saturday against the Cyclones.
“Yeah, what they’re doing (is the same),” Prohm said. “Yeah, for the most part.”
The Longhorns have one of the most athletic teams in the league and they’ll rely heavily on that athleticism in pick and roll situations, especially with freshman center Jaxson Hayes. They’ll also use those situations with the floor spaced to create open shots for guys like Jase Febres, who knocked down seven 3-pointers on his way to 23 points in the team’s 84-83 overtime loss to Baylor on Wednesday.
3 – Finding Consistency
One of Iowa State’s biggest ailments this season has been an inability to find consistency from game-to-game. We will see them come out and play well one night then the next they’ll go 2-of-20 from 3-point range as they did in last Saturday’s road loss to TCU.
It seemed like the team got back on track with Monday night’s win over Oklahoma, most notably leading-scorer Marial Shayok, but we’ve thought the same thing multiple times this year just to see the team come back with a poor performance the next time they hit the floor.
“I think we’ve just got to build off of what we did against OU,” Weiler-Babb said. “Try to build that consistency that we’ve needed all year.”
If Iowa State can find that consistency, it would be the perfect time in the season with three regular season games left and the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City looming. Maybe, the pressure of being out of the Big 12 title race has allowed the Cyclones to loosen up again and just have fun playing basketball.
If that is the case, a win in Austin is more than possible for this squad.
“Hopefully, we’re 3-14 (in Austin) coming back here Saturday. That’s the only focus,” Prohm said. “What happened the last 16 games, there’s probably 16 different stories so, like I said, hopefully, we’re 3-14 in the last 17 after Saturday.”