EVANSTON, Ill. – Iowa’s Aaron White was scoring, rebounding, running the floor, defending and playing just the way his coach, Fran McCaffery, likes it.
“When he plays like that, we’re a different team,” McCaffery said after the sophomore forward’s 17 points, six rebounds and four assists helped the Hawkeyes to a much-needed 70-50 Big Ten victory over Northwestern on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
After getting off to an 0-3 league start against rated foes Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State, Iowa made 16 out of 18 shots from the field in one stretch of the second half and improved to 12-5 overall.
“For us, with a couple of gut-wrenching losses (at home to Indiana and Michigan State) and getting our clocks cleaned at Michigan, it’s a good feeling to go on the road and win,” McCaffery said.
Iowa had lost five straight games to Northwestern. McCaffery was 0-4. Now, Ohio State is the only Big Ten team he hasn’t defeated at least once in his third season in Iowa City. The Wildcats, coming off a 70-54 victory at Penn State on Thursday, fell to 1-3 in the Big Ten and 10-7 overall.
Iowa has followed a disturbing pattern this season. When the Hawkeyes struggle on offense, it affects their defensive effort. Two prime examples were a 95-79 loss at Virgini
a Tech on Nov. 27 and a 95-67 loss at No. 2 Michigan a week ago.
The offense was hardly clicking through the first 13 minutes Sunday — the game was tied 11-all. But Iowa pressured the 3-point line and didn’t allow Northwestern any backdoor cuts, either. Northwestern shot just 29.4 percent from the field and was 5-for-26 from 3 for the game.
“Usually, when we’re not playing well on offense, we give in on the defensive end, too,” White said. “The shots weren’t falling early, but we still stayed with it defensively. Then the offense started rolling.”
Iowa outscored Northwestern 14-4 over the final 6:52 of the opening half to take a 25-15 lead into intermission. The Hawkeyes then scored 45 second-half points while shooting 54.3 percent from the field.
A White baseline jumper at the 15:20 mark started that 16-for-18 field-goal stretch to turn a 32-23 lead into a 68-41 runaway.
Coming up big in the run was Josh Oglesby, who made three out of four 3-pointers in less than 4 minutes. Oglesby had been shooting just 27.5 percent from that distance this season and 16.7 percent (2-for-12) in the first three Big Ten games. He finished with a season-high 14 points.
“He’s been killing it in practice,” McCaffery said. “Whenever he’s out there, we’re going to go to him.”
Iowa also got 11 points from Melsahn Basabe off the bench. The junior forward, who had been battling two ankle injuries from earlier in the season, has made 10 of his last 11 shots from the field over the past two games.
“All season, I’ve been motivated because I want more out of myself,” Basabe said. “Because I know when I play well, that makes us a real good team because we’ve got so many good players.”
Iowa’s bench outscored the starters for the second straight game, including a 40-22 edge Sunday.
The Hawkeyes also got a lift from Devyn Marble, who missed Thursday’s loss at Michigan State with an ankle injury. He scored eight points in 30 minutes.
“It was definitely a lot better than I thought it was going to be,” Marble said. “I was able to sprint more than I thought and was able to slide better than I thought. It’s a little sore. But with treatments, I should be fine by the time we play Wisconsin (on Saturday).”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball