AMES, Iowa (AP) — Texas coach Rick Barnes thought the Longhorns weren’t tough enough early or smart enough late to beat Iowa State.
But missing 47 shots is what really killed Texas against the Cyclones.
Melvin Ejim scored 25 points and DeAndre Kane added 22 to help No. 17 Iowa State beat 19th-ranked Texas 85-76 on Tuesday night for its fifth victory in six games.
Georges Niang had 20 points for the Cyclones (20-5, 8-5 Big 12), who clinched their third straight 20-win season under coach Fred Hoiberg.
Iowa State outscored Texas 25-12 late in the second half to pull away and move within a game of the second-place Longhorns in the Big 12. They were keyed by Ejim, who had his second-best scoring game of the season.
Isaiah Taylor had 26 points to lead the Longhorns (20-6, 9-4), who’ve followed up a seven-game winning streak by splitting their last four.
The Longhorns shot just 33 percent from the floor, while Iowa State was 30 of 61.
“They didn’t do one thing we didn’t think they were going to do. We weren’t tough enough to guard it, stop it,” Barnes said. “We didn’t execute what we had to do. We gave them a chance to get comfortable.”
Even though Texas shot so poorly, it still hit some big shots in the second half.
The Longhorns could barely miss from the line either.
Javan Felix hit a 3 to match a crowd-energizing one from Matt Thomas, and Connor Lammert did as well with Iowa State on the verge of going ahead by double digits with 8:08 left.
Texas also hit its first 16 free throws and 23 of 25 overall to hang close. But Jonathan Holmes finally missed with 6:26 left, and Niang’s ensuing putback gave Iowa State a 75-65 lead.
Holmes and Cameron Ridley, who combined for 39 points and 18 rebounds in an 86-76 Texas win over Iowa State last month, teamed up for just 18 points and 14 rebounds on Tuesday.
Felix had 16 points. But he needed 22 shots to get there, largely because the Longhorns couldn’t hit easy inside baskets.
Texas was outscored in the paint 40-18.
“Our guards don’t want to shoot the ball that many times,” Barnes said.
The Cyclones had struggled of late on defense. They let up 102 points in a loss at West Virginia on Feb. 10 — and followed that up by blowing an 18-point home lead against Texas Tech.
Iowa State’s first defensive stand against the Longhorns was a disaster.
It got better from there, though.
The Cyclones allowed four consecutive offensive rebounds by Texas to open play, and Kane went to the bench with a neck injury. But Kane returned in time to hit Iowa State’s first basket, and the Cyclones soon took a lead it would hold for most of the half.
Monte Morris found Ejim for an alley-oop to help Iowa State push its lead to 36-27, and his reverse dunk from the baseline made it 43-33.
But Texas, which shot a dreadful 10 of 37 from the floor in the first half, hit six of their next 10 to pull even at 48-all with just over 14 minutes to go.
The Longhorns didn’t have an answer for Ejim though — and Kane and Niang also had their way with the Texas defense.
Kane added five assists and seven rebounds without a turnover.
“”We weren’t tough enough in the first half. It’s plain and simple,” Barnes said. “It wasn’t a real sweet talk at halftime. But I do think they came out and responded. Then when we tied it at 48 in the second half, we weren’t smart enough. We acted like we were still in the catch-up mode as opposed (acting like) we were back in the game. We had some poor shot selection, turnovers.”
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