Aaron White’s performance against Penn State concluded perhaps his best week in a Hawkeyes uniform. One that helped Iowa to three wins as well.
Iowa senior Aaron White finished the game with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He knocked down 11 free throws in 12 attempts, including six down the stretch of Iowa’s 81-77 win over Penn State on Feb. 28 in Happy Valley, Pa.
But despite White’s statistical performance — it was his second-straight double-double and third of the season — the most important stat he accumulated in Iowa’s 10th Big Ten win was a steal.
With 30 seconds remaining in overtime, Mike Gesell made the second of two free throws to put Iowa up by 1. As Penn State inbounded the ball, White appeared to be headed back to the defensive side of the floor. Instead, as the inbound pass was thrown, he turned around, sprinted to the corner of the floor, and stole the ball.
White was fouled, then hit both free throws, putting Iowa up by 3 with 29 seconds left, essentially sealing, or at least putting Iowa in the driver’s seat of clinching its first Big Ten winning record since the 2006-07 season.
Things looked bleak for Iowa at the start of the game; after matching each other for the first 9 points, Penn State unleashed a 14-2 run to take the 23-11 lead with 11:20 left in the first half.
Penn State took advantage early of Iowa’s perimeter defense, hitting three 3-pointers during that 14-2 run and knocking down 10-of-28 attempts on the night.
While Iowa contained Penn State leading scorer D.J. Newbill in the first half, Shep Garner gave Iowa fits, scoring 9 points in the first half — all on 3-pointers. He averages 8.8 points per game.
Fortunately for Iowa, the Hawkeyes had plenty of time left. Immediately following Penn State’s run, Iowa rattled off a run of its own, outscoring the Nittany Lions 20-6 for the remainder of the half. Iowa led 31-29 at halftime.
While the first half was full of runs by each team, the second half was much more balanced. The largest lead held by either teams was 6.
Iowa gained an advantage over Penn State at the free-throw line.
The Hawkeyes missed just two free throws all night, including an 11-of-12 performance from the charity stripe from White and an 8-8 from Gabe Olaseni, who chipped in 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Iowa’s 92.6 percent (25-27) performance from the free-throw line was the best single-game percentage of the season. It’s also the first time since Jan. 17 that the Hawkeyes made 25 or more free throws.
Iowa outscored the Nittany Lions 13-9 in the overtime period. White scored the last 6 points for the Hawks, all on free throws.
While Iowa was held to just 35.8 percent shooting from the field, five Hawkeyes scored in double-digits, including a somewhat surprising 12-point performance from Josh Oglesby.
The senior knocked down four 3-pointers, culminating in a season-high point total. He has made 6 of his last 10 3-point attempts in Iowa’s last two games.
But the story of the night was Oglesby’s fellow senior and four-year teammate White. His performance against Penn State wrapped up a week (from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28) in which the Iowa captain has combined for 68 points, 34 rebounds, shot 58.8 percent from the field, 71.4 percent from 3, and 88.4 percent from the free-throw line.
But most importantly this time of the year: Iowa won all three games.