- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

AMES, Iowa (AP) - Last month, Texas forward Jonathan Holmes and center Cameron Ridley exploited Iowa State’s lack of interior size and punished the smaller Cyclones.

The way Iowa State responded in the rematch proved it can handle imposing frontcourts.

Holmes and Ridley, who combined for 39 points and 18 rebounds in the Longhorns’ 86-76 win on Jan. 18, were limited to just 18 and 14 in the Cyclones’ 85-76 win on Tuesday night.

Iowa State held Texas, one of the Big 12’s top frontcourts, to just 18 points in the paint while relying on turnovers and transition offense to get 40 points of its own inside.

The Cyclones (20-5, 8-5 Big 12) travel to face TCU on (9-16, 0-13) Saturday.

“Coach (Fred Hoiberg) draws up great defensive schemes to help us handle these bigger guys,” Iowa State forward Georges Niang said.

That hasn’t always been easy.

The Cyclones don’t have a traditional center that Hoiberg trusts to play significant minutes, and that has cost them at times during Big 12 play.

But Iowa State has shown it can compensate with impressive athleticism and a commitment to team defense.

Iowa State’s main interior threats, forwards Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue, aren’t built like classic post presences at 6-foot-6 and roughly 220 pounds apiece. But Ejim and Hogue also share a knack for outmaneuvering bigger opponents for dunks, easy layups and long rebounds.

Ejim leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.1 points a game on 52.7 percent shooting. He led the Big 12 in rebounding last season and is currently second at 8.6 a game.

While Hogue isn’t quite the scorer Ejim is, he’s right behind his more publicized teammate with 8.5 rebounds a game.

The two have engaged in a playful competition for the league rebounding title since November, and their intensity on the glass appears to have rubbed off on their teammates.

“It’s definitely important for guys like me and Dustin, guys that rebound well on the team, to initiate the rebounding. And then everyone comes in,” Ejim said. “It sparks us as a team.”

The closest thing the Cyclones have to a starting center is 6-foot-7 Georges Niang.

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