IOWA CITY — Iowa forward Aaron White wasn’t himself for a while this season, but his slump was masked by teammate Devyn Marble’s high-profile woes.
Now that Marble is back to his original prowess, White seems to have regained his high level of play. White, a sophomore, scored 15 points against Minnesota on Sunday in a 72-51 beating at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. White was 4-of-6 from the field that game and sank 7-of-9 free throws. Perhaps more importantly, White contributed in other ways, grabbing four rebounds, blocking three shots and dishing two assists.
It was a better effort than in Iowa’s two previous wins, where he scored seven points against Northwestern and nine at Penn State. But it was more than just scoring.
“Recently I’ve struggled a little bit,” White said. “It hasn’t been talked about as much as when Dev wasn’t playing well but just get in the flow of the game, get to the free-throw line. I like playing in transition. I’ve got to get back and rebound it better.
“I just tried to drive the ball, make some plays happen. Especially when we’re down. We need something. (Elliott) Eliason and (Trevor) Mbakwe were out there and neither of them could stay in front of me, so I tried to attack.
“I needed a game like this.”
White helped spur an Iowa (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten) comeback against Minnesota midway through the first half. The Hawkeyes trailed 21-5 with 12:57 left until halftime. Iowa rallied, and White scored five consecutive points, including three from the free-throw line. When Iowa was in the midst of a 13-0 run to get back in the game, White scored seven points, the last on an explosive dunk.
“I think what was great about it in particular was how he was driving the ball to the basket,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I mean, you know he’s going to get rebounds. You know he’s going to attack occasionally and dunk the ball. He’s going to shoot the ball a little bit. He’s going to get some poke aways. But he was making a clear effort to drive the ball to the basket. Get to the free throw line, get us into the bonus, stop the clock and allow us to press, and that impacts the game dramatically.”
White, who averages 13.4 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds a game, has played his best this season when he can create mismatches. White now starts at the small forward but often is guarded by a post player. He likes to use his quickness to get into position and explode at the basket. He did that against Minnesota.“I’m kind of a match-up guy, depending on who’s guarding me,” White said. “Penn State went (guard D.J.) Newbill on me, and I’m still trying to learn how to attack a guy like that. But when we play teams like Minnesota and Wisconsin, when they try to put these big guys on me, my eyes kind of light up and I know those guys can’t stay in front of me. Even as athletic as (Minnesota forward) Rodney Williams is — he may be the best athlete in the Big Ten — I don’t think he can keep in front of me off the dribble, and I just tried to exploit that.”