Nov. 9, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — All freshman point guard Mike Gesell wanted for his birthday was a season-opening victory against Texas-Pan American on Friday in men’s basketball.
Gesell, who turned 19 on game day, scored seven points and handed out four assists in his first collegiate game, and before he could blow out the candles for the evening, the Hawkeyes owned an 86-55 win in front of 14,859 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It is the highest attendance figure for a UI men’s basketball season opener since 2001 (15,500 versus Md.-Eastern Shore).
“This is what I wanted, a W for my birthday,” Gesell said.
Gessel’s postgame cupcakes were hard to chew for UI sophomore Aaron White, who led all players with 16 points and four steals. The texture of treats was fine, but White was nursing a sore jaw, compliments of a first-half clothesline to the face by a Bronc defender. White returned to the game moments later.
“The cupcakes were a little hard to chew, but I’m all right,” White said. “When it first happened I thought it was going to be really bad. I was nervous because my mouth hurt so much.”
In the end, it was White and a balanced Hawkeye attack that put the hurt on Texas-Pan American. Four Iowa players scored in double figures: White, junior Zach McCabe (14), junior Roy Devyn Marble (11) and freshman Adam Woodbury (10).
That’s the sort of balance UI head coach Fran McCaffery likes to see, and he expects different names to step up in different games.
“That was kind of the plan, to be able to rotate players,” McCaffery said. “The concern is always if we are going to get chemistry at the right time. We received great contributions from a lot of different people — good assist-to-turnovers, rebounds.”
McCaffery was able to clear his deep bench, with 14 players seeing at least three minutes of court time. Freshman Kyle Meyer will red-shirt.
“We played well as a team, good pressure, everyone was making shots,” White said. “Everyone was contributing. That’s a pretty good team we played, and it was good to come out with that intensity and push the lead up to 20 at the end; it was a good team win.”
McCabe shined on the inside (eight rebounds) and the outside (4-of-4 3-pointers).
“We knew coming into this year that we had a lot of guys with talent and could score,” McCabe said. “Everyone can create their own shot, so having that balanced scoring you don’t know which nigh someone is going to have a big night because it could be anybody.”
The four made 3-point field goals ties a career best for McCabe, which was last accomplished Nov. 26, 2010, against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
“They were open, I took them, I was confident,” McCabe said. “It was a good thing, I thought it gave us a lot of confidence in the second half, too.”
Iowa led 45-24 at halftime, and then heated up during the final 20 minutes by making 51.5 percent of its field goal attempts (17-of-33).
Even with an 8 p.m. tip, a majority of fans stayed until close, with the final horn sounding after 10 p.m.
Iowa returns to Medicom Court on Monday, Nov. 12, to host Central Michigan. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (CT).