Iowa’s 80-50 win over Coppin State on Saturday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was all about high percentage.
From 11 rim-rattling dunks by the Hawkeyes to an 11-2 record in the non-conference portion of the schedule to the 2-point shooting percentage of 72.1 percent (31-of-43).
Coppin State (3-10) wasn’t a sure thing for Iowa (11-2), but the Hawkeyes took care of business.
“They are actually a better team than what they looked,” freshman Anthony Clemmons said. “You can’t underestimate teams like that. Upsets, … it’s what they were looking for. We came out focused.”
With the game tied 7-7, the Hawkeyes went on a 9-0 run that included the first of six dunks in the game for sophomore Aaron White, this one off a steal and alley-oop by Clemmons.
“This was one of the more fun games we’ve had this year,” White said. “Everyone contributed. You could tell everyone was having fun on the floor. Lot of big plays.”
White finished with a game-high 20 points. Sophomore Gabriel Olaseni had a career-best 14 points as well as seven rebounds off the bench.
“The whole thing is for me to get experience,” the 6-foot-10 Olaseni said. “See how it is to play in a college game. Last year I didn’t play a lot. See what I can do out there, what I need to work on.”
Devyn Marble — who scored 57 points in the previous two games — had 11 points for Iowa. Freshman Mike Gesell had nine points and freshman Adam Woodbury had seven points and six rebounds.
Olaseni had several tremendous dunks down the stretch, one off a pass from Clemmons, the other on a perfect alley-oop by Chrstopher Rickert.
But the dunk of the day belonged to Eric May.
The senior from Dubuque got the ball at the free-throw line, took a dribble and two steps, and then launched himself at the rim. He shrugged off his defender and stuffed a dunk that brought the announced crowd of 13,060 to its feet.
“I missed it in the first half,” May said. “I got a chance in the second half, and I wasn’t going to pass it up and shoot a 3.”
The Big Ten Network, which broadcast the game, immediately put up a highlight reel of the dunk on the Internet.
“Once he gets off that left leg, he can get up with anybody,” White said. “The guy jumped with him, which wasn’t a good decision.”
“That was the best dunk this year I can remember,” Marble said.
It put Iowa up 60-26 with 11:49 to play.
Iowa closed out the game like it wanted to, finishing the non-conference season 11-2, its best start to a season since the 2005-06 team went 11-3.
Up next is top-ranked Indiana on Dec. 31 back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes probably will need to clean up the 19 turnovers and the 0-for-17 from 3-point range they shot Saturday.
“Yeah, you know, 20 turnovers, 0-17 … You don’t expect to win by 30,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “But I thought our defensive effort and concentration early set the tone.
“We really got after them with our press. We did some stuff aggressively at half court.”
Coppin State shot just 29.2 percent (19-of-65), and Iowa out-rebounded the Eagles 54 to 29. The Hawkeyes also forced 20 turnovers, which led to 24 points
“That’s what is key,” White said. “You get teams looking ahead to going home (for Christmas), the Big Ten season right around the corner. You see teams like South Carolina State, Coppin State on your schedule, you think you can just come in and put on the jersey and win.
“That’s not what we did. We really locked in. We came out, executed exactly what we wanted to do. We took them out of their stuff, handled their pressure and pushed the ball up the floor.
“It was good to see we didn’t take this game for granted.”
Iowa led 40-14 at halftime and the Eagles never threatened. None of their players broke double-figures in scoring. Sterling Smith had nine points, and Andre Armstrong and Darryin Johnson each had nine points off the bench.
The Hawkeyes were determined to finish the non-conference season without a bad loss.
“We don’t have a loss we’re going to look back on and say, ‘That could keep us out of the tournament,’” White said. “Last year we had a couple of those.
“If you look at (NCAA) Tournament teams, … they take care of business when they have to, and they knock off some teams, they find their way in. That’s what we need to do, what I thought we did in the non-conference.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball