Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Inconsistent Texas gives away winnable Big 12 game at Iowa State with 20 turnovers

Iowa State Cyclones' forward Aljaz Kunc (5) and Texas Longhorns' forward Tre Mitchell (33) fight for a loose ball during the first half at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

AMES, Iowa — Good luck trying to figure out No. 21 Texas at this point. It’s quickly becoming a guessing game as to which team will show up.

The offense was plain dreadful last weekend in Stillwater. Three days later, the Longhorns ran roughshod over their Red River rivals.

Seems like there’s a happy medium in there somewhere. Saturday’s trip to Hilton Coliseum brought about a new issue — sloppy ball handling.

A lazy, underhanded soft toss. A communication mix-up where the ball got thrown into the back court. Dribbling backward against a full-court press to invite a 10-second violation. Another haphazard pass thrown through traffic.

Missed shots are one thing. Giving it to the other team is something quite different. Texas had a season-high 20 turnovers and got what any Big 12 team would expect as a result, a 79-70 loss to No. 15 Iowa State.

More:Iowa State was rolling along, piling up wins, then Big 12 play started. Texas up next

Iowa State Cyclones' guard Caleb Grill (2) lays up the ball around Texas Longhorns' guard Andrew Jones (1) during the first half at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

“Obviously turnovers were a big, big problem for us. In both halves,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “That was the story of the game from our perspective.”

The Longhorns (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) committed all sorts of uncharacteristic mistakes. Still, it was a five-point game with 4:17 left, but the Cyclones closed the door.

This was no Picasso, but it was winnable. 

“Obviously throughout the past three games haven’t been super consistent, that’s something we’re trying to do,” guard Marcus Carr said. “We know at this point the mistakes that we’re making, we just have to go back and hit the drawing board and get better.”

More:Stuck in the mud offensively, No. 14 Texas can’t maneuver its way through Oklahoma State

More:In perhaps its most complete game yet, No. 21 Texas locks up rival Oklahoma

Beard looked like a coach who wasn’t so much mad as he was stumped. Asked about Texas’ inconsistency of late, he said. “I think those are fair questions to all of us. I’m the coach of the team.”

Carr had four turnovers. But so did forward Tre Mitchell. Even Dylan Disu had three turnovers. Timmy Allen picked up two turnovers in the first 16 seconds, so he needed a cautious approach the rest of the day.

“Nine of them come from our forwards. We can’t have that,” Beard said. “Their jobs is to score, not to turn the ball over.”

Texas Longhorns men's basketball head coach Chris Beard reacts during the second half against Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa

Said Carr: “It definitely falls a lot on my shoulders. I have to be the one that calms down and makes sure that we’re playing with poise. And I didn't do a good job that.”

Andrew Jones had a team-high 18 points, Carr added 15 more and Courtney Ramey had 10. Overall, the Horns shot 46.2% and went 14-for-18 from the free throw line. Typically, those are good numbers. Those are winning numbers when you’re not turning it over. 

Beard definitely wasn’t thrilled about some of his guards’ defense. “Some of our players who were filling up the stat sheet tonight were giving it up on the other end,” Beard said.

It’s simply too hard to win when you turn it over and the other team runs the other way. Iowa State had 23 points off Texas’ turnovers. Thirteen came off fast breaks.

“We would rather have that than setting up plays on a half court,” Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur said. “Our defense facilitating our office and our transition, we’d love to do that. So the more we can do continue to do that and just have fun with it, the sky’s the limit for us.”

Iowa State guard Caleb Grill catches a pass over Texas guard Avery Benson (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 79-70. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Horns weren’t having any fun. “It was frustrating watching our turnovers just basically become their offense,” Beard said.

Back in the preseason, the Cyclones (14-3, 2-3 Big 12) were the unanimous pick to finish last in the Big 12. Well, they look like a legitimate Top-25 team now. Kalscheur, who played with Carr the last two seasons at Minnesota, rang up 22 points. 

Kalscheur came into the game shooting 24.7% from 3-point range. He went 6-for-12 from beyond the arc against Texas. 

His three quick 3-pointers to open the second half gave Iowa State a 53-36 lead. Texas, which had 13 turnovers in the first half, had two more after the break. At that point, Iowa State had a 23-3 edge in points off turnovers.

Iowa State Cyclones' guard Gabe Kalscheur (22) takes a three-point shot around Texas Longhorns' guard Andrew Jones (1) during the second half at Hilton Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

Beard was pulling all levers. He sent Tristan Licon and Avery Benson — the change-of-pace guys — into the game hoping to change things up. Licon didn’t score, but he went hard at the rim after a Carr miss and almost had a sweet put-back bucket. 

Somebody had to try something. As Iowa State built up a 14-point lead, Texas missed eight of nine shots. “We put a couple guys in their second half that play their asses off, Tristan and Avery and that’s Texas basketball. That’s who we're supposed to be,” Beard said.

Allen scored on a tough layup and drew a foul. Jones grabbed the rebound after the missed free throw and scored. That was a four-point swing. Carr and Allen both got to the free throw line, and it was back to a two-possession game.

Then, Kalscheur hit the biggest shot of the day when he banked in a 3-pointer over Licon with one second left on the shot clock. Two possessions later, he shook loose from Carr and drained another 3-pointer.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Kalscheur threw a terrific no-look pass to a cutting Izaiah Brockington for a slam-dunk tombstone.

By the end, the crowd of 14,267 was on its feet roaring in typical Iowa State fashion. Those watching back home in Austin were likely roaring with a different tone.

“Today is just one of those games,” Beard said. 

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.