AMES — Iowa State guard Chris Babb set himself, squared up and released, freezing his wrist in a picture-perfect follow-through.
It’s a confident long-distance pose he struck several times in Saturday’s 86-66 Big 12 rout of downtrodden Texas Tech — and he might still be holding it.
“We’re just really flowing, I’m just really flowing in the offense,” said Babb, who drilled five 3-pointers in helping the Cyclones (19-8, 9-5) earn their 22nd straight win at Hilton Coliseum before a sellout crowd of 14,376. “Everybody on the team is an offensive threat at this point. It could be anybody.”
Texas Tech (9-16, 2-12) shocked the Cyclones 56-51 last month in Lubbock.
Saturday, Babb — ISU’s defensive stopper — served as an offensive closer late in each half.
His two 3-pointers in the final 1:13 of the first half finally created some separation in the form of a 36-29 halftime lead.
“That was definitely big for us,” said Babb, who’s shooting 53 percent (25 of 47) from beyond the arc the past eight games. “We were pretty sluggish until that point. We just got a couple shots to fall and that kind of sparked our transition.”
Babb’s second straight long-range swish with 5:07 left punctuated the triumph as some fans began chanting, “bring on Kansas” — a reference to Monday’s rematch with the ninth-ranked Jayhawks at Hilton.
Kansas won the previous meeting 97-89 in overtime.
The Jayhawks’ Ben McLemore banked in a 3-pointer that forced the extra session.
“We know what Kansas is about,” said ISU forward Melvin Ejim, who notched his 12th double-double of the season (13 points, 13 rebounds) despite playing just 25 minutes. “We played them. We played them well.”
The Red Raiders stayed gritty Saturday until Will Clyburn’s dunk off a feed from Georges Niang with 14:31 left spurred a 36-14 second-half run.
“We started playing our type of basketball,” Ejim said. “We started rebounding the ball, we started pushing it again, getting passes in transition, getting 3-balls, getting shots up.”
ISU went 11 of 29 from 3-point range, marking the sixth straight game of making at least that many.
Clyburn and Babb each scored 17 points to lead the Cyclones, who haven’t lost a home game to a team currently in the Big 12 since falling to Kansas State, 86-85, Feb. 5, 2011.
So “bring on Kansas” and ESPN’s Big Monday crew.“It’s a heck of a team,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’re excited about the challenge.”