Hawkeyes have to rally around UNO

IOWA CITY – Iowa coach Fran McCaffery needed someone to step up. Forward Aaron White answered the call.

White had 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help Iowa come from behind to beat Nebraska-Omaha 83-75 on Sunday. Half of White’s points came from free throws and 11 of his rebounds came in the second half.

“The most impressive thing to me is his understanding of what was needed in a very difficult game,” McCaffery said. “We get behind and someone has to step up and play the way that he played. You just felt like he was going to get a rebound, get a basket, hit a 3, block a shot – do something we needed him to do.”

Iowa (2-0) sunk 38 free throws to overcome 18 turnovers and a seven-point halftime deficit against scrappy Omaha (1-1).

C.J. Carter scored 22 points for the Mavericks. Omaha led for most of the game before faltering down the stretch.

The Hawkeyes made only 3 of 14 3-pointers, but Iowa’s Anthony Clemmons hit a big one late in the second half. The teams were tied at 66-66 with 6 minutes left when Clemmons knocked down a 3-pointer to immediately answer a 3 from Carter.

Clemmons’ shot sparked a 12-2 run to put away Omaha. The Mavericks went nearly five minutes without a field goal during that stretch.

“That was a shot we needed,” Clemmons said. “I have to be able to knock down shots like that.”

Senior Devyn Marble scored 15 points for the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s bench added 35 points – including Zach McCabe’s 12 points and Clemmons’ 11.

Without a consistent outside shot, Iowa’s offense relied on its ability to attack the rim and get to the foul line.

The Hawkeyes shot 38 of 42 free throws. White and Marble combined to make 21 of 26.

White shot 259 from the foul line last season – 69 more than any teammate and the second most free throws in the Big Ten. The hand-checking rule change fits right into White’s dribble-drive game.

Omaha shot only 16 free throws.

“That’s probably where we won it, being able to drive the ball and get them in foul trouble,” White said.

The Hawkeyes looked lethargic and clumsy in the first half against Omaha – two days after Iowa’s sharp performance in an 82-39 win over UNC-Wilmington.

Iowa turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. Omaha routinely beat the Hawkeyes to loose balls and long rebounds. The Mavericks had 15 second-chance points and 16 points off turnovers in the half to lead 43-36 at halftime.

McCaffery said the Mavericks were fortunate to be so close. The fourth-year coach felt like it just wasn’t Iowa’s day when Omaha turned strong defensive possessions into banked 3-pointers or a loose ball lay-in.

“Those kinds of plays really wear on you over the course of a game,” McCaffery said. “I’m upset that it happened, but at the same time we showed a lot of courage to come back and get this win.”

Omaha put up 15 more shots than Iowa and made eight 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough.

The Mavericks were outrebounded 49-37. Omaha was called for twice as many fouls – giving Iowa 22 more made free throws than the Mavericks attempted.

“I’m really proud of our guys’ effort today,” Omaha coach Derrin Hansen said. “I really thought we battled. We’ll be better coming out of today.”

Omaha’s Devin Patterson scored 13 points and John Karhoff added 11.

White became the first Hawkeye to pull down 15 rebounds in a game in almost three years. Jarryd Cole grabbed 15 rebounds against Northern Iowa on Dec. 7, 2010.

Marble moved into 26th on Iowa’s all-time scoring list, passing Bobby Hansen and Kevin Kunnert.