Northern Iowa, Iowa advance in NCAA Tournament
SEATTLE –- Aaron White and his buddies used to skip school, find a television and watch the NCAA basketball tournament. White would watch great players and dream of being in their shoes someday.
On Friday, he laced up his size-15 Nikes and got his own shining moment.
Iowa's senior forward scored 26 points and carried the Hawkeyes to an 83-52 victory over Atlantic-10 Conference champion Davidson in an NCAA round-of-64 game at KeyArena.
"This is a surreal moment," White said.
Aaron White scored 26 points in Iowa's convincing victory Friday over Davidson in the round of 64 at the NCAA Tournament.
Which kind of sums up the play of White and the Hawkeyes, now 22-11 heading into Sunday's 6:10 p.m. game. White scored 17 of Iowa's 21 points in a 6 ½-minute stretch of the second half as his team won for the seventh time in eight games.
"I was in a little zone there," said White, who has scored at least 20 points in each of his past six games. "And it felt good."
Friday was Iowa's most lopsided NCAA victory ever. There's some history for you.
It was also the Hawkeyes' first NCAA victory in 14 seasons.
"That's been in the back of my mind since Selection Sunday," White said. "I wanted to win one for our program, for our state, for the coaching staff, for my teammates."
It's also another step in the progress of this program in Fran McCaffery's fifth season as coach. But he didn't really want to talk about history after Friday's dismantling of Davidson.
"I don't look at it in terms of historical perspective," McCaffery said. "I look at it in terms of this particular team's journey. How we came together, how we've had bumps in the road. And how we, in the last month and a half, have played as well as any team in the country in terms of understanding what we do defensively, and what we have to do offensively."
Gesell scoresd 13-of-15 points in the second half of Iowa's NCAA round of 64 tournament victory over Davidson on Friday.
The gameplan Friday was for Iowa to use its superior size and length to disrupt the Wildcats' potent 3-point attack. To do damage offensively in the paint. And to rebound.
The Hawkeyes were 3-for-3.
Davidson entered the game sixth nationally in scoring at 79.9 points a game. The Wildcats' 52 points was a season low. Davidson had been shooting 39.7 percent from 3. With Iowa's length disrupting them, the Wildcats shot just 21.4 percent behind the arc (6-for-28).
Iowa had a 46-30 rebounding edge, shot 58.8 from the field the second half and got good guard play. Mike Gesell scored 13 of his 15 points the second half, and Peter Jok reached double figures for the first time in six games with 12. Gesell and Jok combined for Iowa's first five second-half field goals. And then it was White's time to shine.
Iowa center has eight points, eight rebounds in victory.
"We kept running plays for him," center Adam Woodbury said. "He kept scoring. Coach didn't want to go away from him. That was pretty impressive. I'd get in good position, and he kept making them. He was killing my rebounds."
White was 11-for-14 from the field. He missed just once in nine second-half attempts. Davidson had 10 second-half field goals.
"I said (Thursday) I thought he was a first-round pick and how high he went would be dictated by how he does in this tournament," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "And he certainly validated what I said."
So White's career lives for at least one more game. One more chance to lace up those size-15s and be the kind of player he watched as a kid in Strongsville, Ohio.
Hawkeyes win first NCAA game since 2001.