To avoid losing vital positioning for the NCAA Tournament, No. 20 Iowa State will have to take down Texas Tech on the road at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Iowa State will look to avoid a slow start against the Red Raiders, as Texas Tech has the third and sixth best scorers in the conference. With three regular season games remaining, senior Bridget Carleton is seeing the similarities to her sophomore year in 2017, when Iowa State last made the NCAA Tournament.
Madi Wise, a sophomore forward, said the team needs to avoid a slow start to avoid being upset by the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas. Wise said Texas Tech plays well at home, which could spell trouble for the Cyclones.
Texas Tech is 3-12 in the conference and seventh in the conference standings, while Iowa State is 10-5 and third overall in the conference.
“If you have to get your group extra fired-up, extra excited to play on February 26 with three regular season games to go and all that you're playing for — like I keep telling them the equipment rooms in the back — turn your stuff in,” said coach Bill Fennelly.
On Feb. 13, Iowa State fell to Texas Christian University on the road, 76-69, despite the Cyclones beating the Horn Frogs 92-52 at home.
In the first five minutes of the game, Iowa State scored seven points before scoring 18 in the final five minutes of the first quarter.
Chrislyn Carr for Texas Tech is the third highest scorer in the Big 12 with an average of 18 points per game, along with 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Carr isn’t an efficient scorer, as she had a seasonal shooting percentage of 37.4 percent from the floor and 30.5 percent from three.
Their second highest scorer, Brittany Brewer, ranks sixth in the conference by averaging 16 points per game while shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from three. Brewer also averages nine rebounds a game.
Carleton leads the conference in scoring at 21.8 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from three. Carleton also averages 8.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game.
Carleton, now a senior, compared this season to her sophomore year when Iowa State was able to rattle off five wins at the end of the Big 12 conference slate, including a win over No. 6 Texas that propelled the Cyclones to an 18-11 record and a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
“This year, you know, we’re in a really good place," Carleton said. "I think it’s exciting we have really important games — obviously, it adds more pressure — obviously, more people are watching."
Aside from Texas Tech, the Cyclones’ only remaining regular Big 12 games are a road game against No. 18 Texas and a game versus Kansas at home.
Currently, ESPN’s Bracketology with Charlie Creme has Iowa State slotted as a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament. As a four seed, Iowa State would host the first round of games at home.
With three games remaining, Iowa State is in position to be a four seed or higher for the first time since 2010, when Iowa State was a four seed and made it to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to the No. 1 seed in the University of Connecticut.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more my senior year,” Carleton said.