Life in the Big 12 Conference means the windshield always has to be bigger than the rearview mirror, whether a team is coming off a big win or a disappointing loss.
Two teams will put that theory to the test Tuesday in another matchup between ranked Big 12 teams when No. 15 Iowa State and No. 18Texas Tech square off at Lubbock, Texas.
The Cyclones got back on track by scratching past 21st-ranked Texas 79-70 on Saturday, while the Red Raiders came back to earth a bit with a 62-51 loss at Kansas State.
Iowa State (14-3, 2-3 Big 12) got back into the win column thanks to a big first half and a gritty finish. Gabe Kalscheur led the Cyclones with 22 points and was a key in the second-half standoff with 15 points, anchored by two late 3-pointers.
Those late daggers came after Kalscheur connected on three 3-pointers early in the second half to help Iowa State extend a 38-31 halftime lead to 51-36 with 16:14 left in the game. Two of those shots came in transition in a game when the Cyclones outscored the Longhorns 13-2 on fast-break points.
"We would rather have that than setting up plays in half-court," Kalscheur said. "Our defense facilitating our offense and our transition -- we love to do that. So, the more we can continue to do that and just have fun with it, the sky's the limit for us."
Texas Tech's season was on that kind of arc after consecutive upsets against No. 6 Kansas and top-ranked Baylor, plus a win at home vs. Oklahoma State. But playing a fourth game in eight days appeared to take a toll on Saturday as the Red Raiders (13-4, 3-2) faltered down the stretch against Kansas State.
After a promising beginning, Texas Tech shot only 33.3 percent in the second half on Saturday. The Red Raiders were also stung by 18 turnovers that led to 18 Kansas State points.
"We just needed to play and coach better," first-year Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. "I thought we made some poor decisions late and had to play small ball, which is something we really don't like to do."
Bryson Williams was a bright spot for the Red Raiders. He scored 20 points and was the only Texas Tech player who finished with more than three made shots from the floor. The Red Raiders also only had seven assists.
"We were definitely fatigued with a lot of games in a short amount of time, but this is a team with no excuses," Williams said. "We know every time we get on the court in the Big 12 that it is going to be a fight.
Iowa State edged the Red Raiders 51-47 on Jan. 5 in a game that the Cyclones controlled most of the way but coughed up the lead late. Izaiah Brockington put Iowa State back in front with a clutch 3-pointer with 1:52 to go and iced the victory with two free throws in the closing seconds.
--Field Level Media