By Travis Morgan
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Sophomore Aaron White scored a career-high 27 points to propel the University of Iowa men's basketball team to a 76-67 victory over Penn State on Thursday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We needed it," said White of the victory that improved Iowa's record to 14-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play. "When you lose a tough game at Purdue that we thought we should have had. It comes a point where we're at 10 games left, and we need to get a win streak going. This was a good one for us to start.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, and we didn't execute that great, but a win is a win. We'll take good stuff from it, and we'll break it down and see the bad stuff."
White made 8-of-15 field goal attempts and went 10-of-11 from the charity stripe en route to his fourth 20-point game of the season. The forward also had five rebounds and two blocks in 34 minutes.
"He played with great energy," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "We felt like he was affecting the game at both ends, and we needed to leave him out there."
start of the year, scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds to notch his first double-double of the season and 10th of his career. Basabe made 8-of-10 attempts from the free throw line and went 1-of-4 from the field.
Iowa made a living from the free throw line in the game, especially in the second half. The Hawkeyes made 31-of-39 attempts -- both tying season-highs -- which included 21 makes over the final 20 minutes. Penn State was 14-of-16 on its free throw attempts for the game.
"You just have to go up there, shoot them and knock them in," said White. "That's what I tried to do tonight. It's always good to be back at your home rims."
The Hawkeyes shot 40 percent from the floor, making 20-of-50 field goal attempts and went 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from 3-point land. Penn State was 23-of-58 (39.7) from the floor and made seven attempts from long range. Iowa won the rebounding battle, 38-32.
After taking a 34-26 lead into the break, junior Roy Devyn Marble opened the second half with a 3-pointer to push the Hawkeye lead to 11 (37-26). The Nittany Lions, however, followed with eight straight points to make it a three point game (37-34) with 17:18 to play.
The Hawkeyes rebuilt their lead at the free throw line, making eight straight over a three-minute stretch to push the lead to 45-38. A White layup and a Zach McCabe 3-pointer stretched the lead 50-38 to force a Penn State timeout, and freshman Anthony Clemmons made a pair of free throws to give Iowa a 52-38 lead.
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to a game-high 15 points on a Clemmons 3-pointer at the seven minute mark, but the Nittany Lions wouldn't go away. A Nick Colella triple cut the lead to 10 points with 5:54 left, a tip-in by Jon Graham cut it to single digits with 2:32 to play, and D.J. Newbill's jumper made it 69-62 with 1:32 left.
Iowa broke the Nittany Lion full-court pressure and made its free throws down the stretch to run out nine point winners.
Newbill led Penn State in scoring, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Jermaine Marshall added 15, making 5-of-15 attempts.
After a sluggish start where Iowa fell behind 8-1 and 10-3 over the first four and a half minutes, the Hawkeyes found their footing with a 14-0 and 16-2 run to turn a 10-3 deficit into a 17-10 lead.
"It was important to get back in it after you fall behind 8-1," said McCaffery. "It was defense and transition."
White opened the spurt with seven consecutive points to even the tally at 10. Freshman Adam Woodbury followed with a pair of free throws, and senior Eric May's layup made the score 14-10. Sophomore Josh Oglesby then drained a 3-pointer -- his first since the road win at Northwestern -- to give Iowa the seven point lead with 10:50 remaining in the first half.
"An 8-1 run on their part was unacceptable on our part to start the game," said White. "I don't think we came out with the mentality to put them away early. Then we went on a 16-2 run, which was a good answer by us."
A White 3-pointer at the 6:14 mark pushed the Hawkeye advantage to 24-15 and the Iowa lead went to double digits on a Marble dunk with two minutes left in the half. Following a technical foul on Basabe for taunting following a dunk, Penn State scored five of the final seven points to trim its deficit to 34-26 at the break.
Iowa shot 39.3 percent (11-of-28) in the first half, while Penn State made 9-of-26 attempts (34.6 percent). The Nittany Lions had 13 first half turnovers, and Iowa made 10-of-13 free throws.
Iowa hits the road for two games in a four-day stretch, beginning with a Sunday afternoon matchup against No. 23 Minnesota.