AMES, Iowa (AP) – Chris Babb scored 17 points and Iowa State beat Texas 77-71 Wednesday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Royce White added 14 points and Chris Allen had 13 for the Cyclones (11-3), who won their league opener for the first time in five years.
Sheldon McClellan’s layup with 16 seconds left pulled the Longhorns (10-4) within 75-71. But that was as close as they would get, as Allen sealed it from the free-throw line.
Texas star J’Covan Brown finished with 19 points despite missing most of the second half with a right ankle injury. Clint Chapman added a career-high 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Longhorns, who lost just their second Big 12 opener in 14 tries under coach Rick Barnes.
Iowa State could have put the game away much more easily had it not shot just 12 of 24 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Still, this was the biggest win yet for the Cyclones.
Iowa State blew an early 14-point lead early in the second half. But it quickly recovered, reeling off a 14-2 run capped by a Babb 3-pointer and Scott Christopherson’s nifty layup to jump back ahead 60-47 with 11:56 left.
The spurt coincided with Brown’s absence, although that wasn’t Texas’ only issue. Brown left early in the second half after rolling his right ankle, and though he re-entered the game it wasn’t long before he was back on the bench with his balky ankle wrapped up.
Chapman, whose previous career high was just nine points, brought the Longhorns within 72-66 with 3:55 left. But Texas struggled down the stretch without Brown, their leading scorer.
Iowa State jumped all over the Longhorns in the first half by leaning on 3s — which it can do in spurts as well as anyone in the country.
Babb hit back-to-back 3-pointers, sandwiched around a defensive lapse that has been all too common for the Cyclones, and Anthony Booker threw down a dunk that gave the Cyclones a 30-21 lead. Babb had four 3s in the first half and Booker — a 6-foot-9 backup forward — hit three from beyond the arc as Iowa State pushed its lead to as much as 39-25.
Booker’s final 3 of the half helped the Cyclones maintain a 44-34 edge at the break, thanks largely to 9-of-12 shooting from 3-point range. The Longhorns needed less than three minutes to erase it though, pulling even at 44-all with 17:14 left.
Texas and Iowa State entered league play with matching 10-3 records and lingering questions about whether they can make a run in the Big 12.
The Longhorns dropped neutral-site games to Oregon State and North Carolina State, and then got pounded by No. 3 North Carolina 82-63 just before Christmas. The Cyclones won their last five games in non-conference play, but a narrow 67-65 win over Mississippi Valley State last weekend had coach Fred Hoiberg fuming over his team’s effort.
It was much better against the Longhorns, whose three-game winning streak in Ames ended.
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