Slow start dooms No. 9 Iowa State as they lose at Texas Tech

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With No. 11 Kansas having won at No. 17 Texas earlier in the day, all that stood between No. 9 Iowa State and a share of first place in the Big 12 was a win in Lubbock against Texas Tech. And with the Red Raiders having lost their first six conference games, the last two by 20 points apiece, it seemed safe to assume that Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones would have little trouble taking care of business.

Things didn’t work out that way however, as Texas Tech got off to a hot start against the sluggish Cyclones and built up a large lead they didn’t relinquish despite making things interesting late. Tubby Smith’s team held on for the 78-73 victory, picking up the biggest win of his tenure in Lubbock, and they did so by outshooting Iowa State from beyond the arc.

The Red Raiders made their first five three-point attempts, and the proficiency from deep opening things up at the rim as they built a lead that got as high as 19 points in the first half. Iowa State didn’t show the level of urgency needed to limit Texas Tech’s quality looks, and that cost the Cyclones dearly. For the game Texas Tech made 11 of its 24 attempts from three, outscoring Iowa State by 15 points with the Cyclones shooting just 6-for-31.

With regards to three-point shooting, Saturday’s loss followed a script similar to the one that resulted in losses to Maryland (6-for-27 3PT) and South Carolina (1-for-18) for Iowa State (they shot 10-for-19 from three in the loss at Baylor).

The poor three-point shooting wasn’t the only issue on offense for Fred Hoiberg’s team Saturday afternoon, with ball movement being a concern as well. Entering the game tops in the country in assists per game (18.4) and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.59), Iowa State finished with just ten assists and broke even in assist-to-turnover ratio.

A team that entered the game with four players averaging at least two assists per game, Iowa State had just two players (Monte Morris and Georges Niang- three apiece) tally more than one assist against Texas Tech.

A team lauded for its offensive skill, which includes solid ball and player movement when clicking, Iowa State didn’t display that against Texas Tech. While the Red Raiders certainly deserve credit for what they accomplished, as it isn’t their responsibility to make sure the opposition is motivated to play from the start, Iowa State looked like a team that considered Saturday’s game to be a respite of sorts from their rigorous conference slate.

And by the time Iowa State got going, the hole they found themselves in proved to be too deep to climb out of.