By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas — Mo Bamba was mad when he ripped down a rebound and went back for a two-handed dunk punctuated by a yell and a fist pump.
Mad about getting blocked a minute earlier, and still mad about a humiliating loss at No. 7 West Virginia two days earlier.
“Our motto coming into this was, ‘Somebody has to pay for it,'” the Longhorns freshman forward said. “Unfortunately for Iowa State, it was them.”
Bamba scored a season-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Longhorns bounced back from the blowout defeat with a steady 73-57 win over Iowa State on Monday night. Texas led the entire way after a quick start, then shut the door defensively in the final three minutes to snuff out any hopes of a Cyclones rally.
Texas (13-7, 4-4) needed the victory in a big way. The 35-point loss at West Virginia was the worst of coach Shaka Smart’s career. Another loss Monday night could have put the Longhorns back on the bottom of the Big 12, where they finished last season.
At 6-foot-11 with long arms and quick hands, Bamba has been a force under the basket on both ends of the court. The nation’s second-leading shot blocker had three more against the Cyclones, had two steals, and even stepped out to make two 3-pointers, a season high.
Kerwin Roach II added 22 points for Texas. Roach made four 3-pointers and teamed with Bamba with assists on a layup and dunk early to spark the Longhorns’ offense.
“It carried over through the whole game,” Roach said. “We kept the lead and coach emphasized coming out to a good start.”
Texas led by nine at halftime and stretched it to 13 early in the second. The Cyclones rallied to get within seven before the Longhorns went to Bamba for a layup and Dylan Osetkowski tipped away a pass to start a fast break that Roach finished for a 47-36 Texas lead.
Cameron Lard had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead Iowa State (11-8, 2-6).
Iowa State: The Cyclones’ growing pains continue. After knocking off No. 14 Texas Tech at home in their biggest win of the season, any confidence left from that victory disappeared quickly under Roach’s early long-range shooting and the dominant presence of Bamba underneath. The Cyclones are 0-4 on the road in the Big 12.
“I’m frustrated right now. I’m disappointed,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “We’ve just got to find a way to play better on the road.
Texas: The Longhorns have had their own road struggles but have been dynamite at home of late. In a span of 12 days, they have two wins on their home court against ranked teams and, despite a paltry crowd Monday night, came out as the aggressor against Iowa State. Texas won’t go back on the road in the Big 12 until Jan. 31 at Texas Tech.
Texas hosts Mississippi from the SEC on Saturday.
“We’re getting a bit of a break from the league when we know going into the last five weeks there are going to be a ton of battles,” Smart said.
The Longhorns came in as the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big 12 at 30 percent, but seemed determined to change that in a hurry. Roach made his first three 3-pointers in the first three minutes, Bamba stepped out to hit his eighth of the season moments later. Roach would make four in the game and Texas went 8 of 20 from long range.
“We don’t even tell our guys anymore a guy can’t shoot,” Proh said. “Every time we do, they have a career night from three … That got them off to a great start tonight and that’s not really their game.”
Both teams struggled to score in the final minutes. Texas only made one field goal over the final 6:25 and that was a giveaway layup with 7 seconds left. Iowa State didn’t score over the final 4:10 after cutting the Texas lead to eight.
The Cyclones’ last chance died when Lard was whistled for traveling when Iowa State thought he had made a basket over Bamba and drawn a foul. On the next possession, Lindell Wigginton missed a contested layup and Bamba snagged the rebound with 1:56 left.
“I told our guys we’ve got to attack on offense, but if they don’t score, we’re going to win,” Smart said. “We were up eight and they didn’t.”
Iowa State hosts No.22 Tennessee on Saturday
Texas hosts Mississippi on Saturday
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