IOWA CITY, Ia. — A new starting lineup put Aaron White in familiar surroundings Thursday.
When Iowa coach Fran McCaffery inserted Melsahn Basabe into the starting five against Penn State, White moved from power forward to small forward. It was a good move for both.
White scored a career-high 27 points and Basabe recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Hawkeyes’ 76-67 victory before an announced crowd of 13,369 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I had a meeting with coach,” White, 6-foot-8 sophomore, said. “He told me about Mel moving in, and me moving to the 3. If that’s what he thinks is best for the team, I’m all for it.”
Basabe, who had given Iowa a lift off the bench in recent games, started for the first time since a Jan. 26, 2012 home game against Nebraska.
“I don’t always like to make changes when a guy’s playing really well in the role that he’s in,” McCaffery said. “But I felt like he had earned the right to start, so I put him in the starting lineup.”
Guard Anthony Clemmons went to the bench. In the season’s first eight games, Zach McCabe had started at power forward and White played the small forward. Then Clemmons became a starter, McCabe went to the bench and White moved to power forward.
“I’m glad coach trusts me in multiple positions,” White said.
White even played some post late in the game. At one point in the second half, he waved off a teammate and brought the ball over the timeline to start the offense.
“Maybe I can play the point,” White said. “Talk to Fran and see what he says.”
White made 8-of-15 shots from the field, and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line to go with five rebounds, four on the offensive glass.
“When they need a big shot, he hits a big shot,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “When they need a big rebound, he gets a rebound. He’s relentless. A big-time player.”
Iowa improved to 3-5 in the Big Ten and 14-7 overall after its 10th consecutive victory over the Nittany Lions at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Penn State fell to 0-9 in the Big Ten and 8-13 overall.
Iowa made 31-of-39 free throws for the game. Penn State made three more field goals but got outscored by 17 points at the line.
The Hawkeyes got off to a sluggish start, falling behind, 8-1.
“The start of the game was unacceptable on our part,” White said.
But Iowa got its transition game in gear at that point. The Nittany Lions turned it over on five of their next nine possessions, and so
me scrappy Iowa defense forced several of those miscues. Iowa turned defense into offense with a 16-2 run that started with seven straight points by White.
Iowa’s 34-26 halftime lead grew to as many as 15 points several times, the last at 64-49 with 6:28 to play. Penn State clawed to with 69-62 with 1:30 remaining, and McCaffery got irate with his team several times.
Once, White took a 3-pointer with Basabe wide open under the basket. Execution lacked on several possessions late in the shot clock. Another time, Iowa turned the ball over against Penn State’s trap with four time outs at its disposal.
“You can’t do that,” McCaffery said, who went nose-to-nose with Devyn Marble during one late-game timeout. “So those are the things that hopefully we learned.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball