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Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa State upends Texas, 77-71

Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson (11) looks to drive past Texas guard Julien Lewis, left, during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson (11) looks to drive past Texas guard Julien Lewis, left, during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Ames, Iowa.

January 4, 2012

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Iowa State's transfer-laden team has struggled with consistency at times this season.

The newcomers didn't have any trouble carrying the Cyclones in their Big 12 debuts.

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 scored 13 for the Cyclones (11-3), who won their league opener for the first time in five seasons.

They did so behind Babb, White, Allen and fellow newcomer Anthony Booker, who combined for 55 of Iowa State's 77 points.

"I'm proud of the team. I'm proud of the fact that down the stretch we believed in ourselves," White said.

Texas star J'Covan Brown finished with 19 points despite missing most of the second half after turning his right ankle. 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.

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.

"In some ways it's probably good for us. A situation like this happens, and I'm really pleased with the way our guys competed," Barnes said about losing Brown. "We'll learn from it, and that will be the biggest question. ... How quick does it take us to learn from the mistakes that we made."

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, 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.

"We've got to understand that we can win, beat anybody we can play, and we don't have to have J'Covan out there all the time," Barnes said. "This will be good for us."

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, pulling even at 44-all with 17:14 left, but Iowa State shook it off and went right back ahead.

"They came out and hit us. They went on a little run, but we didn't break down. We withstood their run and we made our own run. We defended, we rebounded in the second half," Babb said.

Texas and Iowa State entered league play with matching 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, as Iowa State won its sixth in a row dating back to a loss at No. 16 Michigan a month ago.

"It was great to see Chris Babb come out of the gates the way he did hitting shots, playing with swagger," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Our energy was outstanding, I thought, early in that game."

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