By Rob Gray
AMES — Losing by 25 points Monday at West Virginia made Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue angry.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Hogue, whose leg — by accident, he stressed — played a role in a flagrant foul-filled fracas near the end of that 102-77 loss at Morgantown. “We’ve got a lot of fans here, a lot of people stand behind us and they tuned in to watch us play and give our all and that’s not what we did against West Virginia. We can’t take any more days off, so we’ve got to take this anger and frustration out on Texas Tech.”
Based on early-season returns, the Red Raiders (13-11, 5-6 Big 12) would seem a prime lashing-out target for the No. 14 Cyclones (18-5, 6-5).
The teams meet in today’s 12:45 game at Hilton Coliseum and ISU won the previous matchup 73-62.
But Tech’s won three straight games, including an authoritative 68-60 win Wednesday at No. 25 Oklahoma.
“That was as good a performance as I’ve seen in our league all year, to go into Oklahoma and have them down by 20 points early in the second half and then withstand a run and hold them off,” ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They made big plays down the stretch. They’re playing hard — as hard as any team that we’ll face right now.”
They also defend.
The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage defense, allowing just 31.3 percent of conference foes’ long-range shots to fall.
The Cyclones, meanwhile, are hitting a league-worst 31.4 percent of their 3-pointers in Big 12 competition.
They hit just 4 of 23 from beyond the arc against the Mountaineers, tying a season-low for made 3s in a game.
“You have a nightmare about it, then you can’t wait to get back to practice and get things figured out,” ISU forward Georges Niang said of that anger-inducing setback.
And misfiring from long distance is only part of what needs to be figured out.
The Cyclones’ 3-point field goal defense ranks last in the Big 12 since conference play began.
Opponents have converted 39.2 percent of their shots from long range in 11 games.
West Virginia knocked down 13 of 22 — and both a lack of urgency at the point of attack and uneven help defense combined to help make the Mountaineers hot.
“I just think we’re not taking enough pride in guarding our guy one on one,” said Hogue, who scored 15 points while grabbing 10 rebounds Monday. “A lot of teams rely on help defense and I think that our guys just think, ‘OK, I’ve got a guy behind me so it’s OK if my guy blows by me.’ That’s not taking pride in one on one defense — running shooters off the line, containing certain players. I think that when we get back to basics and start locking our guys up we’ll be a better defensive team.”
That could and should start today.
“Hopefully we got some things corrected and we won’t have another performance like (Monday’s) all year,” Hoiberg said.
Count on it, Hogue said.“We’re not letting anybody score that many points on us again,” he said. “We’re going to take this initiative to become a better defensive team.”