For those of you that discount this Texas victory over Iowa State, you do so at your own peril.
The Cyclones are a solid team that just knocked off a top 10 squad on their home floor. Yes, that's right, ISU is coming off a convincing win in Manhattan, KS, against a veritable Big 12 juggernaut coached by the Jersey-est Shore mother-huncher in the Big 12.
Hawkeyes Cyclones may not be a great team, but before tonight, they were only four victories away from being an NCAA tournament shop wrecker. That's 10 straight wins away from a national championship if you're scoring at home.
Why not? ISU, historically, has a solid basketball pedigree. Over the years they've featured great players including Jeff Hornacek, Fred Hoiberg, and Ashton Kutcher look-a-like Kyle Korver who now plays for the Jazz. Well not really, Kyle Korver played for Creighton, which is close to Ames, but keep in mind that I'm pretty sure Korver was recruited by Iowa State so that has to count for something.
The point stands that Iowa State is scrappy ballclub. They're a solid squad and they usually have good, sometimes white players, that illustrate that fact. Forget that their best players over the years have been guys like Marcus Fizer, Jamaal Tinsley and Kelvin Cato, that's not germane to their scrappiness. Neither is the fact that their most famous coach liked playing drinking games with 18 year old coeds. But then again, who doesn't?
Focus people! Focus on the Cyclone scrappiness. We beat them today and a big reason for that was the fact that they played a really scrappy player in Scott Christopherson which afforded our own king of scrappiness Jai Lucas a suitable cover.
The Lucas vs. Christopherson battle was a huge development between an overachieving, scrappy jumpshooter and a ball-handling wizard garden gnome. Not because these two really played a big role in the outcome of the game, but because it allowed Texas to slide Avery Bradley on to Diante Garrett to stop the bleeding on defense.
You see, up until that defensive adjustment, Garrett was able to out-scrap Jai Lucas off the dribble and into the lane for easy layups and offensive board opportunities for the Cyclones. When Rick made the adjustment to slide Avery Bradley over to guard ISU's less scrappy backcourt counterpart, Texas was able to hold ISU to zero field goals over a seven minute stretch in the second half.
That's right, ISU went on a seven minute, nineteen second field goal drought when Avery Bradley was on the ball, which prevented the Cyclones from getting any easy offense, or difficult offense, nay scrappy offense, for a large portion of the second half. Tip your cap to coach Barnes for this huge in-game adjustment.
Offensively, your stars of the game are frontcourt players Dex Pittman, Gary Johnson, and scrapping warrior Damion James. The trio combined to go 23-38 from the field for 59 points and 31 rebounds. Pretty scrappy.
And that's your ballgame. One defensive adjustment that allowed Jai Lucas to not only stay on the floor on defense, but spread the floor on offense to let GJ, Damion James, and Pittman work an undersized ISU frontcourt.
The win sets up a rematch against the Baylor Bears, and the Longhorns will be looking to avoid taking a size three collar against Scott Drew's battling Baptists. They're not the scrappy overachieving club that the Cyclones rolled out, but they're very talented, and some segments of Longhorn fandom put a premium on beating talented vs. over-achieving teams.
Not me, I'm pretty stoked about beating an ISU club a mere 4 games away from the NCAA tournament. For those that aren't pumped by the win, here's a scrappy picture for you, courtesy of my two month old Raylee. Her scrappiness in this picture is palpable, and no, the pic is not staged. Like I said, she's just scrappy.