Hawkeye basketball sloppy, but victorious over Nittany Lions at home

BY TOM CLOS | FEBRUARY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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It wasn’t pretty. Heck, at times it wasn’t even entertaining.

But the Iowa men’s basketball team got the job done.

Sophomore forward Aaron White netted a career-high 27 points to go with 5 rebounds, and junior forward Melsahn Basabe posted a double-double, his first of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 76-67 victory over Penn State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night.

The win snaps the Hawkeyes’ (14-7, 3-5 Big Ten) two-game losing streak; the Nittany Lions (8-13, 0-9) have now lost nine in a row.

“Not the prettiest game, and we didn’t execute that great, but a win is a win.” White said. “We’re getting down to 10 more games now, and you need to get a winning streak going. We needed it.”

Penn State stunned the 13,369 Carver-Hawkeye Arena faithful out of the gate, jumping out to an early 10-3 lead through the first five minutes of the game. White answered, though, rattling off 8-straight points as part of a 14-0 run that put Iowa ahead for good.

Though the Hawkeyes never trailed again, their lead never grew larger than 15 points. The Nittany Lions made a late run to pull within 7 at 69-62 with 1:32 remaining, but the Black and Gold were able to ice the contest from the free-throw line.

McCaffery was pleased with how Basabe, who was inserted into the starting lineup in place of struggling freshman guard Anthony Clemmons, handled his return in the top-five rotation.

“I'd been considering it for a game or two. I thought he was tremendous at Purdue,” McCaffery said. “Again, he comes right back with the double-double, so I’m proud of him.”

The head coach knew Thursday was a must-win and was happy to get it. He was less than ecstatic, however, about the way his players finished what turned out to be a surprising, too close for comfort affair. 

“We didn’t rebound and execute as well as we should [down the stretch], but we did enough to get home,” McCaffery said. “But let’s be realistic about how good we have to be, because at the time we were up 14. What if you’re up 5? Different story.”

Hawkeyes will try to extend streak against Gophers

Iowa now hits the road for a pair of road rivalry matchups, the first a trip to Minneapolis for a date with Minnesota on Feb. 3. The Hawkeyes swept the Maroon and Gold in both meetings last season< including a 64-62 triumph at Williams Arena.

The Golden Gophers (16-5, 4-4) were once shaping up to be one of the better squads in the country until they hit a midseason swoon to the tune of four-straight conference losses. Minnesota snapped the skid in its most recent contest----an 84-65 triumph over Nebraska on Tuesday.

But even though they are struggling at the moment, Basabe is expecting an all out slugfest against one of the biggest, most physical teams in the nation led by the looming duo of senior forwards Trevor Mbawke and Rodney Williams.

“We’ve got to battle,” Basabe said. “As a team, we need to understand that on the road, you can’t turn the ball over and make mistakes. You’ve got to go up there with a warrior mentality.”

The upperclassmen said he has no doubt revenge will be the main theme of the afternoon when the two longtime foes clash at the place they call “The Barn.”

“I remember [last season], so I’m sure they’re not forgetting it,” Basabe said. “They’ve been ranked, they have good players, and they’re trying to be one of the best teams in the country. This conference is just a battle conference, and you’ve got to be ready for that.”

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