116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State didn’t score a single point in the first seven minutes and 23 seconds of the second half.
The No. 11 Cyclones had more turnovers than made field goals Wednesday against No. 25 Texas Tech and struggled to take — let alone make — shots all night.
Somehow, they still won the game.
ISU’s defensive-driven 51-47 triumph over the depleted Red Raiders also snapped a 24-game losing streak against Big 12 foes — so no matter what it looked like and felt like, that long run of in-conference futility is finally over.
“They turned it into a rock fight,” Cyclone guard Izaiah Brockington said of Texas Tech, which was missing its two leading scorers and dressed just seven scholarship players. “We’ve seen them have games like that before. We've seen how they like to pressure; how do you like to try to make teams uncomfortable and rushed. So we’ve got to do better of just playing at our pace on offense, but that’s a good team. That's a good defense. So we just had to figure that one out.”
Defense, as the time-worn adage goes, travels.
And the Red Raiders (10-3, 0-1 Big 12) — like Iowa State (13-1, 1-1) — base their identity on what happens on that end of the floor.
Hence, both teams struggled mightily to score with any degree of efficiency. Texas Tech shot 39 percent from the field, 18 percent from 3-point range and 46 percent from the foul line.
The Cyclones hit just 30.6 percent of their field goal attempts, but outscored the Red Raiders by a combined 20 points from beyond the arc and the free throw stripe.
“I’m proud of our guys,” ISU head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “It’s tough to win games in this league. It’s the best league in America. We’re gonna just try to find ways every night out to be a tough, scrappy team that can come away with whatever equation we need to win that game.”
Brockington led the Cyclones with 14 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing his seventh double-double of the season and his career.
Aljaz Kunc added 13 points off the bench and Gabe Kalscheur scored nine — including two free throws that gave ISU a two-possession lead, at 46-42, with 1:22 remaining.
“We held them to 47 points,” said Kunc, who scored all seven of his second-half points at the free throw line. “I feel like for a conference game that’s pretty good. We forced a lot of turnovers, so we’ve just got to keep improving on both ends, but I feel like we are going to win games with defense, not offense.”
The Cyclones led 30-19 at halftime and seemed to be in control against the Red Raiders, who saw a five-game winning streak in the series snapped.
But ISU didn’t score a point in the second half until Caleb Grill drained two free throws with 12:37 remaining.
The Cyclones led 32-26 at the time, but Texas Tech continued to chip away, finally taking its first lead, 42-40, with 2:18 left.
Cue Brockington, who drilled a contested 3-pointer that turned into a four-point play. ISU never trailed again and simply persevered to notch its first win against a Big 12 opponent since a 65-59 triumph over TCU on Feb. 25, 2020, at Hilton Coliseum.
“We’d like to offer up our most sincere thanks to our fans for their support, for their energy, for their passion and their enthusiasm,” Otzelberger said. “Hilton was rocking. We were not at our best. We were challenged to score offensively throughout the entire second half and their energy, their passion and their enthusiasm pushed us through a really tough time.”