116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES - Iowa State has found success against every Big 12 program this season - except one.
The Cyclones have beaten every conference foe at least once, except Texas. On Friday at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Iowa State will try to get over the hump against the Longhorns in a quarterfinal game at 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU).
The No. 4-seeded Cyclones lost both regular-season games to the No. 5-seeded Longhorns by over 10 points.
The issue for Iowa State (16-9) has come on the offensive end of the floor - an outlier for a Bill Fennelly-coached team, which have historically been offensive-minded teams.
Texas' stellar defense comes from its constant pressure from the guards and if they get beat, the Longhorns (17-8) have the 6-foot-5 Charli Collier to block or disrupt any shots at the rim.
'Our inability to get anything offensively was our biggest problem - we scored 59 in both games,” Fennelly said of his offense, which averages 76.5 points per game. 'The idea of playing against that kind of pressure defense - they're the only team in the league that does it and it's hard to simulate in practice.”
The Longhorns held teams to just 61 points per game and forced nearly 20 turnovers per game.
In Iowa State's first game against Texas, Ashley Joens was just 4-of-17 from the field and she was in foul trouble for much of the second game. She still scored 19 in each game, but Fennelly needs his star player to be in rhythm from the start.
'We need to get her going,” Fennelly said. 'We'll make adjustments and move her around a little bit and try to get her the ball in space a little bit more. We have to be really smart about where and how we get Ashley the ball.”
Fennelly recognizes that the experienced Texas team is a tough matchup for his young Iowa State team, but in the postseason, all it takes is one game.
'You don't want to pack up, get to Kansas City and be on the road again before some of the teams have even played,” Fennelly said. 'All of our players have been in win-or-go-home events. The biggest thing is that at some point this season is going to end, and at the end, you want to feel like you played to the level that you could play and if the other team is better, then they're better.
'This is a great challenge for our team. We play in a really good league and the only team that swept us was Texas. We need to have an edge where we need to play a good team better than we did the first two times. Our kids are excited about the opportunity. This is a reward or bonus to the most unique season I've ever been a part of.”