Iowa loses Aaron White to injury, drops tight game at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-- Aaron White was in two kinds of pain Saturday — in his neck and side, and because he couldn't rescue his Iowa basketball teammates from a 67-63 loss at Purdue.
Iowa's leading scorer and rebounder suffered what was classified as a stinger early in the Big Ten Conference game and played only seven minutes, none in the second half, at Mackey Arena.
"They said it's not going to feel better by tonight," White said. "And that's pretty much when I stopped listening. I knew I couldn't play."
Now, the waiting and wondering if and when White can return intensifies.
Let's start with the good news: It's not a broken collarbone, as White first feared. And Iowa has six days off until its next game on Jan. 31 against Wisconsin.
Also, White had this to say:
"We've got great trainers. They'll take care of me," White said. "I don't think the fans should be worried. I'll be all right."
Now, the cautionary news: White told reporters afterward that the pain hadn't lessened since he suffered the injury with 15 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first half in a collision with Purdue's Kendall Stephens.
The prognosis can vary on stingers. When a stinger — a nerve injury usually triggered by an impact to the neck or shoulder region — is severe, WebMD.com says it "can take weeks or months to heal" and can become chronic.
"I'm not trying to be flip. I've never seen one of these before," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I guess they happen in football. At first I thought it was a shoulder separation — which, you see those a lot in basketball.
"It's obviously good that we don't play until next Saturday. That'll give him the best shot." I have no idea how long those things take to heal, and how severe his is."
White desperately wanted to come back into the game. In fact, he did — briefly. He re-entered with 12:28 left in the first half, but despite not taking any contact crumbled in pain at the 9:49 mark and did not return.
"We saw the Purdue doctor and asked if they could give me a shot, give me anything to temporarily relieve the pain," White said. "Basically, when you've got nerves, you can't start messing with that." There's too many things that could go wrong."
White was injured shortly after Iowa jumped to a 10-2 lead. Without him, the Hawkeyes had trouble finding a flow. They trailed 34-24 at halftime.
"I think you might be right," McCaffery said. "Defensively, we were just OK in that stretch. Our zone was better than our man, but neither was great. That's why they got a double-digit lead."
The Hawkeyes clawed back behind Mike Gesell. He scored Iowa's final 12 points, the last two on a jumper with 1:18 left that pushed Iowa into a 63-62 lead.
Raphael Davis, who entered the game with four 3-pointers for the season, answered with his third 3 of the afternoon with 45 seconds left, and the Hawkeyes failed to score on their final three possessions.
All the while, White suffered through the loss on many levels. He said he felt like a coach as the Hawkeyes (13-7 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) suffered a 0-2 week after getting ranked in The Associated Press poll (at No. 25) for the first time this season.
"Just disappointing, the timing," White said. "Why couldn't it have happened a little later after we were winning by a little bit?
"I'm hoping that this is it, just this game, and I'll be ready to go next game."