AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State’s transfer-laden team has struggled with consistency at times this season. The newcomers didn’t have any trouble carrying the Cyclones in their Big 12 debuts. Chris Babb scored 17 points and Iowa State beat Texas 77-71 Wednesday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams. Royce White added 14 points and Chris Allen scored 13 for the Cyclones (11-3), who won their league opener for the first time in five seasons. They did so behind Babb, White, Allen and fellow newcomer Anthony Booker, who combined for 55 of Iowa State’s 77 points. Texas star J’Covan Brown finished with 19 points despite missing most of the second half after turning his right ankle. Clint Chapman added a career-high 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Longhorns, who lost just their second Big 12 opener in 14 tries under coach Rick Barnes. Sheldon McClellan’s layup with 16 seconds left pulled the Longhorns (10-4) within 75-71. But that was as close as they would get, as Allen sealed it from the free-throw line.
Texas and Iowa State entered league play with matching records and lingering questions about whether they can make a run in the Big 12. The Longhorns dropped neutral-site games to Oregon State and North Carolina State, and then got pounded by No. 3 North Carolina 82-63 just before Christmas. The Cyclones won their last five games in non-conference play, but a narrow 67-65 win over Mississippi Valley State last weekend had coach Fred Hoiberg fuming over his team’s effort. It was much better against the Longhorns, as Iowa State won its sixth in a row dating back to a loss at No. 16 Michigan a month ago.