Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State women's basketball hosts Texas with first place in Big 12 at stake

No. 22 Cyclones get biggest test yet in No. 11 Longorns

Iowa State guard Alexa Middleton (left) reacts after center Kristin Scott (right) hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired against Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa State guard Alexa Middleton (left) reacts after center Kristin Scott (right) hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired against Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

AMES — No. 22 Iowa State battles No. 11 Texas Saturday for sole possession of first place in the Big 12 women’s basketball standings.

Tipoff is 4 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum (Cyclones.TV).

“In the past, we said we’ll play hard and Iowa State is this scrappy little team that’s always going to compete at Hilton,” ISU Coach Bill Fennelly said. “But I told them, with the way we’ve been playing, Texas knows who we are. We’re not going to sneak up on them, that’s for sure.”

And the way Iowa State’s been playing has been impressive. Iowa State’s two conference wins at Hilton this year have both been by 38 points. Its lone road win against Kansas was by nine.

Texas (13-2, 3-0) brings a unique challenge that Iowa State’s previous conference oppnenets have not: legitmate size.

Texas has five players 6-foot-3 or taller. The Longhorns’ tallest player, Sedona Prince, is 6-foot-7.

“If our players don’t know what they’re getting into, they’ll watch Texas walk in the gym and watch them be as tall or taller than our men’s team and our players will know really quick,” Fennelly said.

Texas knows how to use its length, too.

“When you play Texas, you know what you’re going to get,” Fennelly said. “They have great size and length, they rebound the ball like crazy. They rebound 47 percent of their misses, which is an insane number. Their size is always an issue.”

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Iowa State (13-2, 3-0) plays with a four-guard lineup almost exclusively. Senior Bridget Carleton said it’ll be a team effort on the boards.

“(Rebounding) is a mindset,” Carleton said. “They’re tall, they’re athletic and they go after it. We need to box out every single time. It’s not something we can take for granted one play because they’re going to take advantage of that and get an easy basket. We’re going to be dedicated to it every possession.”

Fennelly said he hasn’t really considered using two post players to try and help negate Texas’ rebounding. Even Iowa State post player Kristin Scott can step out to the perimeter and make some shots. At 6-foot-4, Scott is shooting 86 percent from 3-point range in conference play.

“Sometimes you get so consumed with the other team that you get away from what you do,” Fennelly said. “For us, the four-guard thing works. Kristin gives us a unique post presence because she can stretch the defense a little bit and step outside.

“We have to team rebound — our guards have to get in there. It’s not going to be our four and five against their four and five. If that’s the case, it’s going to be a long night.”

Iowa State has played good teams so far, including two ranked teams in No. 17 Iowa and No. 23 Miami, but nothing like Texas.

“We haven’t faced a team like Texas yet,” Carleton said. “We’re excited to see where we stand.

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