No. 4 Longhorns slip past Iowa State in front of an empty Erwin Center

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Texas’ Andrew Jones (1) is congratulated by teammates, including Greg Brown (4), after making a three-point basket against Oklahoma State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Austin, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fresh off its highest national ranking in nearly a decade, the No. 4 Texas Longhorns earned their third Big 12 win on Tuesday night at a fan-less Frank Erwin Center.

Texas fought off a pesky, young Iowa State team for a 78-72 win led by a career-high 23 points from Andrew Jones.

The Longhorns (9-1, 3-0 Big 12) shrugged off a strong start from the Cyclones (2-6, 0-4 Big 12) with 10-0 and 9-0 runs late in the first half. Kai Jones’ dunk with 1:42 left in the first gave Texas a 37-25 lead. Shaka Smart’s team went into the locker room leading 37-27 even after a cold 3-point shooting half. Texas only made two 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

Texas found its shooting touch in the second half, going 6-of-13 from the 3-point line to extend its lead to 13.

Iowa State nibbled away, cutting the deficit below 10 several times, but Texas always answered. These Longhorns wouldn’t allow themselves to letdown after the statement win at Kansas over the weekend.

With 2:56 remaining, Iowa State cut the deficit to seven on two Jaden Walker free throws. On their next possession, Texas moved the ball around the perimeter, getting Jones open in the corner. The redshirt junior took it to the basket for his new, career-high, putting Texas ahead 72-63.

Matt Coleman’s step-back jumper with the game and shot clock draining hit from 20-feet for a 75-67 lead with 43 seconds left. The Longhorns made 3-of-4 free throw attempts never allowing Iowa State to get within a possession of the lead.

All five Longhorns starters finished with double-digit points. Coleman scored 13 and freshman Greg Brown scored 15.

The Longhorns outrebounded Iowa State 43-31 led by an inspired effort from Jericho Sims. The forward continued his strong play from the weekend with 10 points and eight rebounds. The box score doesn’t do justice to Sims’ performance. He was everywhere on defense on a night when Texas didn’t have its best defensive performance.

The game was played without fans due to the current COVID-19 situation in Austin. Travis County is currently in Stage 5 of its COVID-19 risk assessment chart, limiting most activities.

Next, Texas travels to No. 14 West Virginia for another ranked Big 12 showdown. Last season’s trip to Morgantown ended in historically bad fashion for the Longhorns. West Virginia ran Texas out of the gym 97-59, which was the fifth worst loss in Longhorns basketball history. Tip off is 12 p.m. Saturday.

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