Aaron White had one last time to shine at Carver-Hawkeye, and he made it count. The senior leader of the team dropped 25 points in his home finale, including nine straight Hawkeye points before leaving the court to tear-filled hugs, and Iowa finished off its regular season with a 69-52 victory over visiting Northwestern.
White got things off to a raucous start for the packed crowd with two threes and an alley-oop to opn Iowa's scoring, and Iowa never trailed in the game (Northwestern did get things back to a two-point game late in the first half, but the Wildcats never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead after Iowa made it 6-0).
The game was sweet revenge for the Hawkeyes, who lost an overtime head-scratcher in Evanston three weeks ago; they haven't lost since. Northwestern used that victory to go on a rather impressive run through the conference, going 5-1 in a six-game span coming into today's contest with wins over teams including Minnesota and Indiana, but Iowa's pressure defense overwhelmed the 'Cats, who spent most of the day in an offensive funk.
Jarrod Uthoff was more than capable as the second banana, filling the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks; on most other days he'd have been the man of the match. With White going thermonuclear on the hapless Wildcat defense, that wasn't going to be the case today, but Uthoff showed why his presence is going to give any shorter team the Hawkeyes face from here on out a great deal of difficulty. His skill set is unlike basically anyone we've seen in the black and gold, and his defense (especially on jump shot denial) is ramping up to elite levels.
As for the rest of the seniors, Josh Oglesby had a rough time—you can't blame the Cedar Rapids native for being compelled to force a few treys today—but he nailed his final shot from downtown to make sure the crowd (and he) left happy. Likewise, Gabriel Olaseni was quiet from the field (one made shot, three fouls), but his defense was stellar as always and even with the big game from Adam Woodbury, there's no reason to think Fran McCaffery should regret giving his senior big man the start.
Iowa finishes the regular season at 21-10 (12-6) and firmly in the NCAA tournament picture; the consensus among experts is that Iowa's a low 7- or high 8-seed as of today, though there's really no telling where Iowa ends up until Selection Sunday actually arrives. For a team that lost the longtime focus of its offense to the NBA coming into the season and altered its rotation and style of play in response, this is a sure success for McCaffery and his kids. You'd hope this isn't the ceiling, obviously—Iowa's still the third-best team in the state, and by a pretty significant margin—but this is the best team the Hawkeyes have fielded in nearly a decade and it's thanks in no small part to a wonderful final season from Aaron White and his senior buddies. Let's hope the postseason is just as rewarding.