July 31, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Our summer countdown of the top 10 Iowa men’s basketball games from 2011-12 has reached its climax with our pick for best game.
It was a difficult decision choosing between a rare road win at nationally-ranked Wisconsin, which was No. 2 in our countdown, and Iowa’s 84-75 postseason NIT win over Dayton on March 13 on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. After talking with Hawkeye fans and seeing the 2012 NIT-best 13,190 boisterous fans help lift Iowa to its first postseason triumph since 2006, it was clear that the NIT win was a defining moment in the revitalization of Hawkeye basketball.
In a game where senior Matt Gatens was limited to seven points, a number of other Hawkeyes stepped up with key performances to bring down the Flyers.
Aaron White led the charge by scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
“I was just trying to take advantage of my height and my energy down low, trying to get offensive rebounds and I got open on a couple dunks,” White said. “A lot of it is because my teammates keep me open.”
“He’s really special,” McCaffery said of White. “We knew we had something in Aaron White when we signed him, and you’ve all seen him. Very few freshmen at this level accomplish what he’s accomplished.”
To go along with White’s output, Zach McCabe and Melsahn Basabe provided the scoring, energy and toughness that Iowa needed.
McCabe converted all nine of his field goal attempts and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Sixteen of McCabe’s 20 points came in the first half.
“I was just being aggressive, just playing smart,” McCabe said. “I know with the foul trouble I had all year, I just played smart, tried not to foul which makes life easier. We kept being aggressive inside and they couldn’t stop us really.”
Basabe turned in one of his best efforts of the season, scoring 15 points while grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots.
The Hawkeyes scorched Flyers’ defense all night, shooting 33-of-58 (56.9 percent) for the game.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, that saw the home squad take a 44-41 advantage into the locker room. The Hawkeyes shot a sizzling 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The game was tied at 49 four minutes into the second period when White, Basabe and the rest of the Hawkeyes took control. White scored seven consecutive points for the Hawkeyes in a one minute span that was highlighted by a tip-slam and a 3-pointer. Later, Basabe went on scoring rampage of his own.
The 6-foot-7 post scored nine straight points for the Hawkeyes, all coming on tough, low post baskets. Iowa stormed out to a 71-56 lead with 8:07 to play after White threw down his fourth dunk of the night that capped a 21-7 Hawkeye run over an eight minute span.
Despite Gatens being limited offensively, the senior captain stepped in crunch time by draining a 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the game that put the Hawkeyes ahead 82-67; all but putting the game away. Dayton, of the Atlantic 10 conference, finishes the season at 20-13 overall, while the Hawkeyes improve their record to 18-16.
“The fans came out and supported them,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller said. “13,000-plus, it was a very energetic crowd. Probably the toughest venue we have been in all season long other than maybe Xavier on the road. We were coming into a bee’s nest.”
Watch the highlights of the Hawkeyes’ thrilling postseason NIT victory over Dayton by clicking HERE.
Thank you Hawkeye fans for following our summer countdown. We look forward to many more exciting games in 2012-13!!!