White Ready to Head Home

Jan. 21, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — As a freshman, Aaron White didn’t get an opportunity to play in Ohio in a match-up against the home state Buckeyes. That changes Tuesday night.

The University of Iowa men’s basketball team heads to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 14/15 Ohio State at Value City Arena beginning at 5:31 p.m. (CT).

“I am excited to go back home,” said White, a sophomore who is averaging 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. “Columbus is only an hour or so away from Strongsville, and I am going to have a lot of family there.

“I also have friends that go to Ohio State, so it should be a big crowd (for me). I am looking foward to that.”

Ohio State enters the game with a 13-4 overall and 3-2 Big Ten record. The Buckeyes lost 59-56 at No. 18 Michigan State on Jan. 19 on the heels of a 56-53 victory over second-ranked Michigan on Jan. 13.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” said White. “They beat Michigan. Any road game in this league is going to be tough.”

Iowa has won two straight games to push its record to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in league competition. The Hawkeyes won on the road Jan. 13 at Northwestern (70-50) before holding off Wisconsin, 70-66, last Saturday night.

“I am interested to see how we do on the road,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We had a good road win at Northwestern, prior to that we hadn’t really played well.

“We’re playing a terrific team in a great environment with one, or two, of the best defensive point guards in the country.”

Junior Aaron Craft and sophomore Shannon Scott have 33 and 32 steals, respectively, for an Ohio State squad that ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (57.9) and field goal percentage defense (38.2 percent).

Forward Deshaun Thomas is pacing the Buckeyes and the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 20.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. Thomas also averages a league-best 2.8 3-point field goals per game.

“He has that incredible scorer’s mentality and the ultimate green light,” said McCaffery. “Those guys are hard to guard. He’s the kind of guy that before you know it, he could have 20 shots up and have 30 points.”

McCaffery says Iowa needs to stay engaged on the defensive end to slow down Thomas.

“You have to stay engaged because he has an unbelievable release, whether it is from 3, and he’s quick around the basket,” said McCaffery. “You have to be collectively engaged to stop a guy with that type of explosive scoring ability.”

White says Iowa needs to draw on its defensive intensity the team displayed in its road win at Northwestern.

“It’s important to play like we did at Northwestern,” he said. “To really take them out of their stuff, but defense on the road is totally different than defense at home.

“It’s going to be loud. We have to stay locked into the scouting report because they have a great scorer in Thomas and a great team.”

Ohio State has won the last seven meetings and nine of the last 10 in the series. Iowa’s last victory came on Feb. 2, 2008, — a 53-48 triumph in Iowa City. Overall, the series is all square at 75.

The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson calling the action.