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White rides on 'free' points

BY DANNY PAYNE | DECEMBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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The way it started wasn’t anything new for Aaron White. Jarrod Uthoff got the offensive board, passed to White, who was fouled. Two shots, 2 points.

The senior grabbed a defensive rebound roughly 30 seconds later and on the ensuing possession took a pass in the paint, and again, was fouled. Two shots, 2 points.

“They bit on a couple shot fakes, and it’s just how I play,” White said following Iowa’s 67-44 win over vastly overmatched Alcorn State on Tuesday in Carver-Hawkeye. “I seemed like it did happen awfully quick, but it gets you in a rhythm when you get to the free throw line twice in the first couple minutes.”

It didn’t stop there. Marquis Vance fouled White once more in the second half, while Tamarcio Wilson and Thomas George fouled him, too. His only missed freebee of the night came on his seventh attempt, and the Strongsville, Ohio, native finished the night 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, bringing his season total to 87.7 percent.

That high number of shots at the line is nothing new. Coming into Tuesday’s game, White had attempted the second-most free throws in the Big Ten with 63 attempts, 7 behind Maryland’s Melo Trimble, who was idle Tuesday evening.

For comparison, Trimble is averaging 30.3 minutes per contest, while White has tallied 26.9 through 10 games.

“He's got an incredible ability to get there in a variety of different ways,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We can post him up. We can get it to him in transition.  We can get it to him out of the motion game. He just has a knack for getting open and creating angles and getting to the free-throw line.

“The way he shoots it, too.”

Like McCaffery said, the clip at which White shoots it is high, but is it sustainable? Because of the way he practices, Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni thinks so.

His fellow senior and roommate Olaseni said after spending virtually the entire past three-and-a-half years together and playing against each other daily, he still falls for his shot fakes on occasion.

“It’s very difficult,” Olaseni said. “He does a great job of extending it, making it look lifelike and real.”

That’s the kicker. As competition gets tougher — as it will very soon against Iowa State Friday — if White is able to get to the line at as high of a clip as he has been so far this year, Iowa’s chances of winning will go up exponentially.

Take a look at Iowa’s biggest win of the season at North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. White took 10 shots from the stripe and dropped all 10. Iowa State did a great job last season of limiting White’s trips to the line — he went 2-of-2 in that game.

Familiarity helps, he said, especially because Georges Niang — whom he’s played against in three Iowa-Iowa State matchups, as well as at the LeBron James Camp last summer — will occupy a lot of real estate around the basket.

The Cyclones will surely pose a challenge, but if he can get to the hole and draw fouls as he did Tuesday, White’s confident in his ability to put those shots through the hoop.

“I mean, free points, man,” he said. “I missed one [tonight], but I just have a knack for getting there and fortunately knocking them down.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.


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