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Why Tuesday's game has special meaning for Aaron White

[ 0 ] January 21, 2013 |

Aaron White left the state of Ohio with little fanfare. No Top 100 recruiting rating, no interest from the home-state Big Ten basketball school.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward returns to his native state Tuesday as Iowa’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer for a 5:30 p.m. game against No. 14 Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

“We certainly saw his potential, and thought he could make this kind of impact,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, whose team is 2-3 in the Big Ten and 13-5 overall. “I think there’s a lot more in there. And I think that’s the challenge for him.”

Sophomore forward Aaron White returns to his native state Tuesday as Iowa’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. (Bill Neibergall / Register photo)

Sophomore forward Aaron White returns to his native state Tuesday as Iowa’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. (Bill Neibergall / Register photo)

Tuesday will be the first time that White, averaging 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, has played a college game in his home state. Iowa didn’t play at Ohio State last season. White is from Strongsville, Ohio, 130 miles from the Ohio State campus.

“I’m really excited to go back home,” White said. “I’ll have a lot of family there. I’ve got a lot of friends who go to Ohio State. It should be a big crowd for me, personally. And this is another top team in our conference, a good challenge for us.”

Ohio State, 13-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten, cruised to a 76-47 victory at Iowa last season. White missed all three of his field-goal attempts, made three of four free throws and had three rebounds. Ohio State coach Thad Matta expects to see a different shade of White on Tuesday.

“He’s obviously playing at a very high level,” Matta said. “He’s what I consider a complete player. He does a lot of things, from getting to the foul line to playing inside and outside. He rebounds the ball well. Just a solid basketball player.”

White has scored in double figures 13 times this season, and he’s done it 30 times in 53 career college games. He’s

had at least five rebounds in 33 career games. He also leads this year’s team in free throws made, 88, and attempted, 117, and ranks second with 18 steals.

“As he continues to get stronger I think what you’re going to see him do is expand his game off the dribble and finish plays around the basket,” McCaffery said. “Not that he doesn’t do that now. But I think he’ll do it even better. And then his stamina will improve to where he can continue to impact a game defensively with his length.”

White does possess a sense of anticipation, and many of his steals have come as he darts into passing lanes.

“But as he can stay in a stance and really get after people with a 6-9 frame with great length and athletic power, as terrific as he is now, I think he has a chance to be really special,” McCaffery said.

Iowa brings a two-game winning streak into Tuesday’s game. Both victories – 70-50 at Northwestern and 70-66 at home against Wisconsin – had defense as the foundation. That will be tested by an Ohio State team that has the Big Ten’s leading scorer in forward Deshaun Thomas (20.8 points a game). Iowa lost in its last visit to Ohio State, 70-48, in 2011.

“(Defense) was a focal point coming into the season for our team,” McCaffery said. “And hopefully that will continue.”

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TUESDAY’S GAME

WHO: Iowa (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) at Ohio State (13-4, 3-2)

WHERE: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio.

TIPOFF: 5:30 p.m.

TELEVISION: Big Ten Network.

RADIO: WHO-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network.

STAT LEADERS: For Iowa – Devyn Marble 14.9 ppg; Aaron White 6.2 rpg; Anthony Clemmons 4.1 apg; for Ohio State – Deshaun Thomas 20.8 ppg; Thomas 6.6 rpg; Aaron Craft 4.7 apg.

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa is one of just two Division I teams nationally that have two freshmen with at least 50 assists. Anthony Clemmons has 74, and Mike Gesell has 55. Add Adam Woodbury and Iowa freshmen have started a Big Ten-high 47 games. That ranks sixth nationally.

ABOUT THE BUCKEYES: In addition to leading the Big Ten in scoring, Thomas is also first in average 3-pointers made per game with 2.8.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft (8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 33 steals, 80 assists to 27 turnovers) is regarded to be the Big Ten’s top defender. He’s be going against a rookie in Clemmons (4.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 12 steals, 74 assists to 30 turnovers).

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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