Tom Crean calls Aaron White 'a great basketball player'

Rick Brown

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean has high praise for Iowa senior forward Aaron White.

"He's always been an athlete that was a pretty good basketball player," Crean said Monday. "Now he's a great basketball player (who's also) a tremendous athlete."

White, who faces Crean and the Hoosiers on Tuesday at Assembly Hall, was named Big Ten player of the week for the first time in his career Monday after averaging 25 points and 12.5 rebounds last week in victories over Illinois and Penn State.

"Yes, he had numbers," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "And he had numbers in the game before that which were really impressive. But when the game is in the balance, who is going to make a play to win it? That's what you've got to love about Aaron White."

With Iowa trailing Illinois 3 minutes into the second half Wednesday, 36-35, White scored his team's next 14 points in a 68-60 victory. He finished with a career-high 29 points and nine rebounds.

And his steal with 29 seconds remaining in overtime and the Hawkeyes leading by a point at Penn State Saturday was the pivotal play of the game. White made six consecutive free throws in that final half-minute as Iowa won in overtime 81-77. White finished with 21 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

White has 1,747 career points and needs 22 more to pass Greg Stokes as Iowa's No. 3 all-time scorer. He's also fourth in career rebounds with 868 and needs 10 more to replace Ed Horton at No. 3.

White's 591 made free throws during his career ranks fourth all-time in Big Ten history.

"He continues to improve, and (the coaching staff) have done a great job of making him better," Crean said.

Good to go: McCaffery said Monday that starting guards Mike Gesell and Peter Jok would both be able to play against Indiana. Gesell hit his head on the floor after fouling Penn State's Brandon Taylor on a 3-point attempt during the second half of Saturday's game.

Gesell finished with 14 points, matching his second-highest total in a Big Ten game this season,and added seven assists and a career-high five steals. Jok took an elbow to the head in the second half and played just 14 minutes, his lowest total since becoming a starter 17 games ago.