Dec. 1, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — To combat a small, quick Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men’s basketball team, University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery inserted freshman Anthony Clemmons into the starting lineup for the first time.
But it was a familiar face that came off the bench to ignite the Hawkeyes to an 88-59 victory Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
UI junior Melsahn Basabe scored 13 consecutive points during a span of 2-minutes, 42-seconds of the first half, and finished with a game-high 17 in 13 minutes.
“If I know I’m on fire, I’m not going to stop,” Basabe said. “If your gun’s loaded, you have to keep shooting. I came into the game focused.”
Clemmons logged 21 minutes and handed out a game-high five assists. He found out he was starting for certain Friday.
“I wanted to come out and give the same effort I do when I come off the bench,” Clemmons said. “Hustle plays, distribute the ball. It was nice hearing my name called in the beginning.”
“We’ll evaluate that,” McCaffery said. “It may stay, it may change again. We’ll see.”
Three of the UI starters — Clemmons, Gesell, and Woodbury — are freshmen, the first time the Hawkeyes have started three rookies since Dec. 2, 2008, at Boston College (Aaron Fuller, Matt Gatens, Anthony Tucker).
The Hawkeyes improved to 6-2 thanks to improved defense and an offense that shot 55.8 percent from the field (29-of-52) and 75.9 percent from the line (22-of-29) for the game. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi shot 42.1 percent from the field and attempted just 10 free throws. The Islanders fell to 1-5.
“I thought our focus on the defensive game plan was the best we’ve had all year,” McCaffery said. “We made a team that is pretty good look less talented than they are because we played the right way and battled on the glass.”
Iowa held an advantage of 15 in total rebounds (38 to 23).
Four Hawkeyes scored in double figures. Joining Basabe were Marble (15 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals), Woodbury (13 points, five rebounds), and Josh Oglesby (12 points). Woodbury converted 5-of-6 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws.
“It’s all mental for me,” said Woodbury, who entered the game shooting 57.1 percent from the line. “I have a lot of confidence and I think it has been showing. I’ve been working hard with the coaches; I shoot them every day in practice and it has been showing.”
Iowa scored the first nine points of the contest and led 44-23 at halftime. Basabe was 4-of-4 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line for 15 points in eight minutes. He went on his torrid scoring streak from the 10:09 mark of the first half until 7:27 remained. Woodbury was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and made 3-of-4 free throws with 11 points in 13 minutes.
The Hawkeyes shot 54.2 percent from the field (13-of-24) and attempted 22 free throws (making 16). Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 2-of-4 from the line in the first 20 minutes.
Iowa scored 18 points off 11 Islander turnovers.
The Hawkeyes remain home Tuesday against South Dakota with a 7 p.m. (CT) tip. The Coyotes had a record of 3-4 heading into a game with IUPUI on Saturday evening.
“I want to see us continue to improve — that’s collective — defensively, offensively,” McCaffery said. “We were better offensively tonight than we have been, although we still have a lot of improving to do.”