IOWA CITY — In a four-minute span Saturday afternoon, Iowa junior Melsahn Basabe went from afterthought to first option.
Basabe, a 6-foot-7 forward, was unstoppable. He scored 13 consecutive points, including seven from the foul line. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-5) didn’t have answer for Basabe and was buried in the onslaught 88-59 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I wasn’t taking this lightly — not that I take any game lightly — but I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, we should beat these guys,’ or anything like that because I respected the team and we did as a team,” Basabe said.
“I came in today with a serious mindset and trying to establish rhythm because every game counts.”
Basabe began his takeover with 10 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half, scoring on his way to the basket and drawing a foul. Basabe missed the free throw, but his bucket put Iowa up 20-7.
On Iowa’s next trip up the court, Basabe scored on a feed from Marble. The next four offensive possessions Basabe drove to the basket and was fouled. The first three he sank his free throws. On the last sequence, he scored and then hit ensuing free throw. Basabe’s efforts completed a 20-0 run that took the game from mildly competitive to complete blowout.
It was important for Basabe to get on track. He felt he didn’t play well in losses to Wichita State and Virginia Tech, and he wanted to give his team production and energy off the bench.
“I’ve been struggling lately, up and down, catching myself, so today once I found some momentum, I just really wanted to keep playing off of it,” Basabe said. “I know I’m going to need it over the next couple of weeks and finishing out the season, because I know that we have the best conference in America.”
Basabe finished with 17 points on 5-of-6 from the field with five rebounds in only 13 minutes. In fact his personal run ended only when Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery subbed him out for Gabe Olaseni.
“I don’t think he has been as aggressive in recent weeks. It’s great to see,” McCaffery said. “He was alert. He was on the glass. He was driving the ball to the basket, running the floor. When he’s playing like that, we’re a better team.”
Iowa debuted a new starting lineup with freshman Anthony Clemmons taking over the point and sliding Mike Gesell to off-guard and Devyn Marble to the wing. Zach McCabe instead came off the bench. All of them fed Basabe during the run.
“We’re not a selfish team,” said Marble, who finished with 15 points — including 13 after halftime — and three assists. “Just keep giving it to him until he misses it, or the defense makes an adjustment, and they didn’t make an adjustment.Clemmons scored only one point but he had five assists and just one turnover in 21 minutes. Center Adam Woodbury added 13 points.