AMES — Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson’s coming off his first non-double digit scoring effort in 32 games.
The Bears just suffered their worst loss — an 81-61 rout at No. 13 Kansas State — in more than two years.
A perfect storm for down-on-its-road-luck Iowa State?
“We’re going to have to find a way to close some of these games out,” said Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team (17-8, 7-5) enters Wednesday’s 8 p.m. Big 12 game at Waco with a 1-5 road mark in conference play. “I’ve liked our mentality on the road. We’ve been right there.”
ISU has been oh-so-close to breaking through in four of those five painful losses away from Hilton Coliseum:
- Kansas’ Ben McLemore banked in a 3-point shot to force overtime Jan. 9 and the ninth-ranked Jayhawks rolled from there, winning 97-89.
- Texas Tech held the Cyclones to a season low in points, winning 56-51, Jan. 23 at Lubbock. ISU led 47-46 with 3:25 left.
- The Cyclones led No. 14 Oklahoma State by as many as nine points in the second half Jan. 30, but the Cowboys scored the game’s final six points to win 78-76.
- ISU held a 71-68 advantage with six seconds left in regulation last Wednesday at Texas, but the Longhorns’ Ioannis Papapetrou sank a long 3-pointer to force overtime. Texas triumphed 89-86 in double OT.
“I just don’t think we’ve executed down the stretch,” ISU guard Chris Babb said. “I think on the road in the Big 12 we’re playing 30-35 minutes of great basketball and then there’s that five to six minute stretch. ... To win on the road we have to play the whole 40 minutes.”
For that to start Wednesday, The Cyclone must control Jackson.
He scored 23 points in the first meeting — a 79-71 ISU win Feb. 2 at Ames.
“He’s the fastest guy we’ll play all year,” said Hoiberg, whose team sits in a 3-way tie with Baylor (16-9, 7-5) and Oklahoma (16-8, 7-5) for fourth in the Big 12 standings. “It’s so important to try to slow him down by building a wall with your entire team. You’re not going to stop him one on one. You’ve got to try to use length on him and he’s still going to rise up and knock a few down and you’re going to have to live with that.”
What the Cyclones can’t continue to live with is late defensive breakdowns.
“At the five minute mark we’re not getting the stops we need to win the game,” said ISU’s Will Clyburn, who scored 28 points in the previous meeting against the Bears. “Going on, that’s what we need to do.”
Hoiberg said easy baskets yielded because of bad switches or missed assignments set the stage for the last-second daggers that have characterized life away from home this season.“I love the way our guys have fought on the road,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve just got to find a way to close them out.”