Following a nail biter Sunday Night in Madison, the #20 Hawkeyes were able to breathe easily Thursday night with a 93-67 home romp over Northwestern.
Iowa shot 57% from both the field and the three-point line, overwhelming a hapless Wildcats team without Coach Fran McCaffery, who served his league-mandated suspension during the contest.
The offensive production came across the board from the Iowa starters, as Mike Gesell was the lone starter not to finish in double figures. Iowa got two double-doubles from Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe, the latter of which was a perfect 5-5 from the field and finished the game with 16 points and 10 boards. With two free throws in the first half, Basabe joined the 1,000-career point club, adding to a list with 41 other Hawkeyes, including the aforementioned White and Roy Devyn Marble.
For much of the night, Basabe was the beneficiary of great interior passing from the slashing wings, as well as using his strength to get to the charity stripe. Melsahn and White each had 10 free throw attempts, leading everyone on the floor on a night where only Iowa’s unforced turnovers kept Northwestern treading water for much of the first half.
A Basabe layup in the opening minutes of the second half, sandwiched by a Marble triple and an Adam Woodbury layup saw Iowa’s lead inflate to seventeen and seemingly broke Northwestern’s winning desire.
After the game, Aaron White admitted that getting his teammate over the 1,000-point threshold was part of his agenda.
“I had looked at the game notes before and saw he needed 7. I just wanted to get him the ball.” – Aaron White
It is a great sign for the Hawkeyes to consciously get Basabe involved, as his touches on offense correlate to high percentage looks coming from anywhere on the floor. For a record’s sake or not, getting the ball inside is a recipe for success for Iowa moving forward. Come Sunday’s showdown in Columbus against the Buckeyes, Iowa will have to show similar patience on the offensive end against Thad Matta’s scrappy bunch.