5 things to know about Iowa entering Cy-Hawk game
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Aaron White made an immediate impact on Iowa's basketball program as a freshman. Four years later, he's the gift that keeps giving. Hasn't this guy been in a Hawkeye uniform for about 15 years?
"Longer," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "He's been there forever. I can't wait to get rid of Aaron."
White will get his final shot at No. 14 Iowa State Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"I'm glad that in my last year we've got them at home," said White, who is 1-2 against the Cyclones. "I'm looking forward to it."
White has been a fixture at Iowa ever since he scored 19 points in his first college game. He's got 1,457 career points now, and leads the Hawkeyes in both scoring and rebounding this season.
"We've got to take care of business," White said.
Here are four other things to keep an eye on Friday:
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Iowa's first 10 opponents have averaged just 54.9 points a game. No one has scored more than 71. Defense has been an upgrade from last season.
"There's been an emphasis on defense in every game," point guard Mike Gesell said. "I think that's one of our identities this year, being able to get stops."
Hawkeye foes have shot just 33.7 percent from the field, and 25.7 percent from 3. Iowa State has shot 49.9 percent from the field, 35.7 from 3 and averaged 83.6 points. The only time the Cyclones failed to score at least 73 points was in their only loss, to Maryland.
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Iowa has made 162 free throws this season. Its 10 opponents have attempted 156.
"Free points, man," said White, who is shooting 87.7 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 7.3 attempts a game. "I just have a knack for getting there, and I've been fortunate to knock them down."
Iowa is scoring 16.2 points a game from the charity stripe, and shooting 75 percent as a team.
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Adam Woodbury starts at center, and Gabe Olaseni comes off the bench. They are skilled in ways rare for post men. Woodbury is a tremendous passer. Olaseni runs the floor like a guard.
Olaseni has averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds the last five games, with 14 blocked shots. A guy who once worried about making a mistake is now forcing them. He's always been solid in the open floor. He's comfortable playing in traffic now.
"You have to trust your talent and go make plays," McCaffery said. "And that's what he's doing."
The two posts average more than 12 rebounds between them. Iowa has a 272-237 edge on the defensive boards, crucial to getting the transition game up and running.
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Iowa's perimeter shooting has been suspect all season. And that's the polite version. The Hawkeyes were 0-for-10 in the second half against Alcorn State Tuesday, and 0-for-12 in the second half of a 60-55 victory at North Carolina last week. Jarrod Uthoff (38 percent) and Anthony Clemmons (40 percent) are the only players in the rotation shooting better than 32 percent from 3.
"Our shot selection has been good," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We're moving the ball. We're finding guys."
But they're not finding the bottom of the net.
Iowa is shooting just 42.3 percent from the field. It hasn't shot better than 46.3 percent in any of the last eight games.
"You've got to knock down some shots, Gesell said. "And when we aren't, we have to rely on our defense."
Defense is a good crutch. But against a powerful offensive team like Iowa State, another poor shooting night will likely be fatal.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.