As it heads to Iowa State, Texas looks to make its road woes a thing of the past
When it comes to playing on the road this season, Texas has been cold.
Maybe not as cold as the forecast high of 25 degrees in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday. But UT is only 1-2 in games it has played outside of Austin's city limits.
Texas (10-3, 4-2 Big 12) will look for a better result Saturday evening at Iowa State. The Cyclones (10-4, 6-1) are ranked 24th in The Associated Press' poll.
"(We're stressing) a business-trip mentality," Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. "Whether these kids understand it, realize it, have earned it, everybody shoots for Texas. You get everybody's best shot, home or away."
Just two weeks ago, Texas was 8-1 and slowly rising in the rankings. But the Longhorns were beaten soundly at West Virginia on Jan. 9 and then suffered a 74-66 setback in Lubbock the next weekend.
The 92-58 loss to West Virginia was UT's most lopsided defeat in Big 12 play since 2013. Eight days later, Texas shot 2-for-19 from the field in the third quarter and had its 14-game winning streak over Texas Tech snapped.
The Longhorns did beat Kansas State in Manhattan on Dec. 21. Even that game featured a fourth-quarter rally by the Wildcats, however.
After a 71-54 win over TCU at the Erwin Center on Wednesday, UT guard Joanne Allen-Taylor was asked how Texas could buck this recent trend on the road. She responded that the Longhorns need to "focus, like really, really focus, on what the game plan is."
"It's hard to play at Ames," Texas forward Charli Collier added. "We've got to come out with a lot of intensity going into playing Iowa State."
During the coronavirus pandemic, traveling has been an odd experience for the Longhorns. Players and coaches must wear masks and face shields while traveling, whether they're on a plane or bus. They are not given roommates at the hotel. Everyone must dine alone. Outside of the gym, the only time the team spends together is usually in a socially distanced film session.
"It's unlike anything you can possibly imagine," Schaefer said ahead of the Texas Tech trip. "You have to give everybody's kids, all these teams, so much credit for the sacrifices they're having to make just to have a season."
Averaging 9,690 fans, Iowa State ranked third nationally in attendance last season. Due to the pandemic, the capacity at Hilton Coliseum has been capped at 1,373 this winter. Iowa State is 6-1 at home, with its only loss being to a South Carolina team that was No. 1 in the country at the time.
Over the past few seasons, Texas has had success in Ames. And Schaefer's Mississippi State team snapped Iowa State's 96-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents in 2016. The Longhorns have actually recorded wins the past five times they've been in Ames. Last season, that win was an 81-75 decision.
"I do think you draw from experiences," Schaefer said. "I hope that Charli and the rest of this group that played there last year will take from there that hey, it can be done."
Contact Danny Davis at 512-445-3952. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or @aasdanny.