Hawkeye men's basketball freshmen take over Senior Day

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Before their clash with Nebraska, the Iowa men’s basketball team signaled the end of an era — paying homage to its pair of seniors who took to the Carver-Hawkeye Arena floor for what could be their final time.

A pair of freshmen took note and paid homage to a new era of Hawkeye basketball by slamming the Huskers.

Center Adam Woodbury and fellow rookie guard Anthony Clemmons each posted career-high Big Ten performances, combining for 22 points, and Iowa pegged its first 20-win season since 2006-07 with a 74-60 victory over Nebraska on March 9.

The triumph also gives the Hawkeyes (20-11, 9-9 Big Ten) a .500 or better finish in league play for the first time since 2005-06, the last time Iowa made the NCAA Tournament. The victory locks the Hawks into the sixth-seed in next weekend’s Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

“It was a very emotional day; this first year went by so fast,” Clemmons said. “I’m happy we got the win for our seniors in their last home game.”

Woodbury entered this season amid seemingly astronomical expectations, and it became apparent throughout the year that he could not live up to them.

Against the Huskers however, the 7-1 post player showed what made him a top-50 recruit in high school, taking advantage of a weak Husker frontcourt and shooting 6-of-6 from the field for 12 points.

“I’m getting more comfortable every night out, and it’s showing,” he said. “I got some good looks today and capitalized on them. It was a fun afternoon.”

Woodbury was part of an overwhelming effort from the Hawkeyes’ frontline corps, which outrebounded the Huskers 39-22 and dominated the points in the paint 38-20. The Sioux City native, junior forward Melsahn Basabe, and sophomore Aaron White combined for 42 points. 

“We put some pressure on them down low; they’re not a very deep team,” Woodbury said. “We were able to run, and we got some easy looks down low. I feel we could [dominate] like that in any game.”
Clemmons entered the year the most unheralded piece of Iowa’s much-ballyhooed incoming crop.

Slated to be the backup point guard, his defensive prowess off the bench quickly earned him a starting nod back in December.

The Lansing, Mich. native struggled in the spotlight, though, and he was relegated to a more comfortable reserve role as Big Ten play wore on.

Against Nebraska, though, the freshman looked every bit the breakout player he seemed destined to become earlier in the season, imposing a tight defensive grip on the Husker guards while posting 11 points off the bench.

“Coach McCaffery told me all the time, ‘If they’re in on you, just attack; if there’s an opening, attack,’ ” Clemmons said. “I was just playing ball. I’ve been through a slump, but now I’m back.”

Clemmons played more than 15-consecutive minutes during the latter stages of the second-half, in which he posted 8 points on 3-of-3 shooting and helped the Hawkeyes hold off a late Nebraska charge.

“Anthony’s not afraid to shoot the ball at crunch time, afraid to shoot it late,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He made a really big and-1 in the game when they made the run back at us.”

Clemmons’ late 3-point play, along with Woodbury’s smooth stroke, helped Iowa shine on an afternoon that was supposed to be a look to the past but instead provided an explosive glimpse at what the future might hold for the Black and Gold.

And in the process, the two helped a youthful Hawkeye team take a mature step toward a possible NCAA Tournament berth.

“They both have had great moments; both have had some days where they struggled a little bit, where they persevered and they stayed positive,” McCaffery said. “We stayed positive with them, and they were outstanding today.”

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