March 9, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A 17-0 midway through the second half sent the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 74-60 victory over Nebraska on Saturday afternoon on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win gives Iowa its first 20-win season since 2005-06 and locks up the No. 6 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes will face No. 11 seed Northwestern on Thursday night at 8 p.m. (CT) at the United Center in Chicago.
“It’s a big step for us,” said White of the 20 victories. “You look at the past couple of years, and they’ve been through their struggles, and we kind of turned it around last year with the NIT. Now it’s all about that next step, getting quality wins and making the NCAA tournament.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery says the team needs to recognize it as an accomplishment, but only a step.
“I’m happy for Eric (May) to be the captain of a 20-win team,” said McCaffery, who won his 300th career game. “I am happy for our team to have accomplished this, but we’re not done, and you never want to be satisfied.”
After making eight field goals in a first half where it trailed 32-23, Nebraska matched its field goal total over the first six minutes to make it a game. Trailing 43-33, the Huskers used a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 43-42 before sophomore Josh Oglesby answered with a 3-pointer to put Iowa up 46-42.
“We came out the first four or five minutes and didn’t have the defensive intensity,” said White. “We knew they weren’t going to go away, they’re a gritty team. We reacted well on defense and started to get run-outs, and that’s where we’re at our best.”
Nebraska’s Dylan Talley followed with a lay-up to make it a 46-44 game, but Iowa responded with 17 unanswered points to break the game open. Sophomore Gabriel Olaseni opened the run with a dunk at the 13:53 mark before freshman Anthony Clemmons and junior Melsahn Basabe scored 11 straight to make the score 59-44. Freshman Adam Woodbury followed with a layup and jumper to break open a game-high 63-44 lead with 6:06 to play.
The Hawkeyes shot 72.7 percent (16-of-22) in the second half and a season-high 57.1 percent (28-of-49) from the field. Iowa held a 38-20 advantage in scoring in the paint, had 21 assists on 28 field goals and out-rebounded Nebraska, 39-22.
Iowa’s frontcourt production accounted for 52 points as five players were a combined 20-of-25 from the floor. Sophomore Aaron White led the Hawkeyes with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting and an 8-of-8 performance from the free throw stripe. Basabe was 5-of-7 from the field en route to 11 point and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds to notch his second double-double.
Woodbury was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field en route to 12 points — a Big Ten high — and junior Zach McCabe and Olaseni had six and four points, respectively. Clemmons was the fourth Hawkeye in double digits, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
“We really made an effort to get the ball inside,” said Marble. “I was pushing it and feeding it down low. Woody had a good game, Mel had double-double and played well, Gabe does what he does. Hopefully we can continue to have them playing at that level, and we’ll follow behind them.”
Nebraska shot 37.5 percent (21-of-56) from the field and finished 10-of-25 (40 percent) from 3-point land. The Huskers committed just six turnovers. Ray Gallegos paced Nebraska with 22 points, making 7-of-15 attempts, all of which came from 3-point distance. Talley finished with 11 points.
Iowa got off to a strong start, jumping out to a 10-1 lead over the first four minutes. White opened the game with a 3-pointer before Woodbury had back-to-back baskets to put the Hawkeyes up 7-1. Marble then connected on a long ball at the 16:06 mark to put him over 1,000 points for his career and make the score 10-1.
Nebraska fought back to within 12-8 on a 3-pointer by Gallegos with 12:59 to go in the half, and the score was 16-13 on a Gallegos’ second long ball. Iowa then used a pair of three-point plays by Clemmons and Basabe to take a 22-14 lead at the 6:59 mark.
With the score 26-21, the Hawkeyes closed out the half by scoring 6-of-8 points to take a 32-23 lead into the locker room. Iowa had an 18-8 advantage in points in the paint in the first half and shot 44.4 percent (12-of-27) from the floor and 25 percent (2-of-8) from long range. The Huskers converted 8-of-26 attempts (30.8 percent) and were 3-of-10 (30 percent) from 3-point distance.
The Hawkeyes look to carry the momentum into the Big Ten Tournament, where McCaffery says the Hawkeyes have a realistic shot at cutting down the nets.
“It’s going to take a lot of what you saw today in terms of depth, producing at the level that they did because we have to win four games consecutively, and that’s going to take a lot of energy,” said McCaffery. “You have got to have some guys step it up.
“It might be one guy has one great game and six other people are really consistent, you don’t turn it over, you rebound and make 3s. All those things together, and we have a team that is capable of doing that.”