Youth was served Saturday afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena as the Hawkeyes cruised to an 88-59 victory over Texas A & M-Corpus Christi.
Melsahn Basabe credited focused play for his 17 points in just 13 minutes off the bench for the Hawks.
While Iowa started three freshmen for the first time in five seasons, it was junior Melsahn Basabe who made the biggest contribution to the 88-59 victory over the Islanders. Basabe reached double figures in scoring for just the second time this season, putting up 17 points in just 13 minutes off the bench.
“I'm not doing enough as a junior,” Basabe said in assessing his efforts to date. “I wasn't taking this lightly.”
Basabe also chipped in five rebounds as Iowa owned the Islanders on the glass by a 38-23 margin.
“He was alert. He was on the glass. He was driving the ball to the basket, running the floor,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Basabe. “When he's playing like that, we're a better team.”
Three other Hawks reached double figures as Devyn Marble added 15, and Iowa got 13 from freshman big man Adam Woodbury and 12 from Josh Oglesby.
Fresh off back-to-back losses to Wichita State and Virginia Tech, McCaffery shook up the starting lineup for Saturday's game by subbing Anthony Clemmons in at the point and sliding fellow freshman Mike Gesell to the two. That sent junior Zach McCabe to the bench in a move McCaffery hoped would help calm the 6-foot-7 forward.
“I felt like Zach would benefit from coming off the bench; I felt he was pressing a little bit,' McCaffery said. “I probably did it more for Zach than I did for Anthony.
“This is a team that is a small, quick, so it also helped us match up a little bit.”
Clemmons said he was told by McCaffery on Wednesday he'd be in the mix today but was not officially informed of his move to the starting lineup until Friday afternoon.
“I wanted to give the same effort I give coming off the bench,” he said.
Clemmons played 21 minutes and while he only scored a single point he did add five assists while running the point effectively.
“I think he played well,' said Devyn Marble, who scored 15 and led Iowa in minutes with 23. “It gives Mike (Gesell) the opportunity to show off his scoring ability playing the two.”
Gesell scored 9 points in 21 minutes of action and finished the game with four assists and zero turnovers.
By starting a lineup consisting of Woodbury, Gesell and Clemmons it marked the first time three freshmen took the court together to start an Iowa game since Matt Gatens, Anthony Tucker and Aaron Fuller started for the Hawks against Boston College on Dec. 8, 2008. McCaffery was noncommittal when asked whether the changes to his starting lineup may become permanent.
“We'll evaluate that,” he said. “It may stay. It may change again. We'll see.”
Notes & Quotes
Iowa's big unit
Adam Woodbury showed off his scoring touch using both his right and left hands Saturday, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by McCaffery or reporters.
“He's always been an ambidextrous person,” McCaffery noted. “He's a right‑handed baseball player. Very rarely do you see a right‑handed baseball player who is a left‑handed basketball player. I'm not surprised when he's making layups or jump hooks with either hand.”
Woodbury said he pitched and played a little third base until deciding to focus solely on basketball after his freshman season of high school. His height led one reporter to make a comparison to former lanky ace Randy Johnson. The Sioux City native said his height and longer hair he was sporting at the time meant he took a lot of ribbing from his teammates over the Big Unit comparisons.
“They wanted me to grow the mullet out,” Woodbury said.
Sophomore Aaron White picked up a technical foul during the first half of play with Iowa leading 35-14.
“He said something he shouldn't have said,” McCaffery noted afterward.
White, who did not start the second half, managed just six points in 11 minutes of action. McCaffery said White did not start the final period due to having three fouls, not as punishment for the technical foul.
Nickname on hold
One Iowa beat writer tried pinning Devyn Marble down on a nickname for Melsahn Basabe after the latter's quick 17 points in only 13 minutes of action. “Microwave” was thrown out as a nod to how quickly and efficiently the points came.
“I'll get back at you on that,” Marble said.
Basabe credited his strong play to an increased focus.
“Every game is important for momentum,” he said.
Spreading the wealth
Balanced scoring has been a positive for the Hawks this season, who often times last year needed big nights from Marble or Aaron White to offset a lack of production elsewhere in the lineup.
“We've got a lot of guys who can score,” Marble said. “I told you guys that in the preseason.”
Saturday's win over the Islanders was the first leg of a three-event day for Hawkeye fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Iowa women hosted Northern Iowa in a game that began shortly after the men finished dusting off the Islanders. Tom Brands and the nationally ranked wrestling squad were set to host Iowa State in a 7:30 dual meet Saturday night as well.