AMES — Some of the names and numbers on the Texas Tech men’s basketball team may have changed, but the way the Red Raiders play has remained a constant.
“They defend you the same way and most of the stuff they ran last year, they’re running this year,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said ahead of his team’s meeting with No. 23 Texas Tech (11-5, 2-2 Big 12) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock, Texas. “You have to go down there and match their toughness and their energy. They aren’t any different than they were last year.”
Texas Tech plays and defends in a very similar way to No. 2 Baylor, which beat Iowa State 68-55 on Wednesday.
“They’re tough as shi—,” Iowa State center George Conditt began saying before catching himself. “They’re tough people, man. They’re a good, hard-nosed team that’s always been tough, defensively. I’m not worried about the offense, we have to match their toughness defensively.
“We need to be tougher. If we want to win games we have to be tougher.”
What does toughness mean to Prohm?
“Consistency,” Prohm said. “We’ve showed it in flashes.”
That’s a bit of an oxymoron but his point was that Iowa State (8-8, 1-3) needs to be consistent from play to play and from game to game.
Iowa State has played complete games against power conference opponents. The Cyclones easily handled Alabama 104-89 in November and thumped Oklahoma 81-68 last week, but Iowa State followed both of those convincing wins with losses.
Wednesday, Iowa State was able to stay right with Baylor and was down just five points on the road. But in the second half, the Bears punched the Cyclones in the mouth and Iowa State couldn’t respond.
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“We have to be mentally, physically and emotionally tougher so when things do go bad and we are down 10, can we handle it and come back?” Prohm said. “In basketball, how many times do you see people get down 15 at halftime and by the first media timeout it’s a six-point game? We do have to be tougher. But tougher is attention to detail in how we’re guarding people. That’s toughness.
“Attention to detail in scouting report and knowing what we’re doing in those situations is toughness. You can define toughness in a lot of ways but for us it’s about consistency.”
Conditt sees the same thing his coach does in terms of the consistency — or lack of consistency.
“You see jumps and skips of us improving defensively, but it’s a marathon,” Conditt said. “We have to be consistent. We have to pick it up ASAP.”
The players are taking responsibility to get tougher.
Conditt said the players had a meeting after the Baylor loss and he expressed his thoughts.
“Toughness is on us,” Conditt said. “No one can help you be tough. Only you can. We have each other’s backs and we have our coach’s back. It’s us against the world.”
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