IOWA CITY — On a night when he claimed one of Iowa’s top career marks, Iowa forward Aaron White scored one of the game’s most important baskets in unfamiliar fashion.
White, a senior, passed Roy Marble for free throws made in an Iowa career with 524. But White, who has shot 22.7 percent from 3-point range, buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:37 left to give Iowa a seven-point lead and ultimately the win against Nebraska 70-59 last night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It notched the Hawkeyes’ first 2-0 start in Big Ten play since the 2002-03 season.
But the game was in the balance until the very end. Nebraska took a 51-50 lead with 8:09 left on a pair of Shavon Shields free throws. After the teams traded empty possessions, Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff drilled a 3-pointer to put Iowa back ahead 53-51. Shields tied the game with a jumper on Nebraska’s next possession. Then Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons hit another 3-pointer and the Hawkeyes led by three points.
On the following sequence, White dropped a pair of free throws, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway hit one and Iowa led 58-54. On the Hawkeyes’ ensuring possession, Clemmons missed a jumper and the ball moved to the right of the backboard where Iowa center Adam Woodbury and Nebraska center Walter Pitchford scrambled for the ball. The ball slid off Pitchford out of bounds and Iowa maintained control.
Following a Nebraska timeout, the Hawkeyes worked the ball in their half-court set. With 13 seconds left on the clock, White caught the ball at the top of the key and buried the 3-pointer. It was only his sixth 3-pointer of the season.
“I thought it really came down to those four possessions in the second half, where we come down and Terran takes a 3 in transition and they come down and Uthoff hits a 3 in transition,” Nebraska Coach Tim Miles said. “We come down and I think we score, then Clemmons gets a 3 late in the clock in the corner in front of their bench. We foul and then we give a second shot and White hits his sixth 3 of the year. They get 11 points in four possessions and in a low-scoring battle like that, that’s hard to overcome for teams.”
“Even though my shot wasn’t falling tonight, I was able to make that last one, which was another big shot in the game,” White said.
It turned out to be crucial.
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Nebraska scored the next three points to cut its deficit to four. White then sank a free throw and grabbed a rebound from a Shields miss. That led to a pair of Clemmons’ free throws and Iowa held on the ret of the way.
White finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. He was 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. Center Gabe Olaseni, who entered the game ranked 11th in Big Ten free-throw shooting, knocked down 12 of his 13 free-throw attempts and scored 18 points. Jarrod Uthoff added 15 for the Hawkeyes.
Shields led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting.
The Hawkeyes (11-4, 2-0 Big Ten) took a 35-28 halftime lead based primarily on their posts and free throws. Iowa was 15 of 19 from the line and drew 12 Nebraska fouls. The Cornhuskers, conversely, sank just 2 of 6 free throws.
Statistically, it was a strange half. Nebraska, which entered the game ranked 13th in Big Ten rebounding, out-rebounded league leader Iowa 13-12. The Cornhuskers shot 57.1 percent from the floor, and no Iowa guard scored a point.
Nebraska (8-6, 0-2) started the second half strong, scoring on five consecutive possessions and cutting Iowa’s lead to 37-36 with 16:47 left. The Cornhuskers took their last lead at 51-50 with 8:09 left in the game. A Shields jumper with 6:55 left was the last Nebraska bucket of the game.
Iowa attacked the inside and got the Cornhuskers into foul trouble early. Iowa was in the bonus with 14:01 left in the first half and at one point had scored eight consecutive points from the free-throw line.
The last time Iowa opened 3-0 in the Big Ten also was in 2002-2003 when the Hawkeyes beat Northwestern, Michigan State and Illinois. Iowa gets its chance on Thursday against longtime nemesis Michigan State (10-5, 1-1 Big Ten). The Spartans have won eight straight in the series.
“That’s huge,” Uthoff said about the 2-0 start. “I can’t wait to go 3-0 on Thursday.”
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That’s great,” Clemmons said. “Big ups to Fran McCaffery, getting us ready.”
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