Carver-Hawkeye Arena was rocking, the student section was in full force. The nearly sell-out crowd of 15,127 turned the place into a Black and Gold ruckus.
Probably the loudest Carver has been in four years.
Correction, the loudest it has been in four years.
In a game that featured a multitude of runs and many momentum swings, Iowa forgot about its atrocious 3-point shooting in the first half, out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the nation, and ultimately defeated Iowa State.
Down 36-35 at the break, the Hawkeyes (8-2) started off the second half on a 6-0 run, took the lead, and never looked back to defeat the Cyclones (6-3), 80-71.
“That’s a good team we just beat,” Adam Woodbury said. “We need to continue to build on this. I think [we] have the character to do that.”
The freshman center (9 points, 5 rebounds) helped the Hawkeyes get off to an 8-0 start from the opening tip, but Aaron White paced Iowa with 18 points. He also added 7 rebounds and 3 assists. A pair of freshman guards stepped up as well — Anthony Clemmons scored 14 and Mike Gesell chipped in 11.
Even being from outside the state, White understands the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry and the kind of implications it can have. The Strongsville, Ohio, native was all smiles after the victory.
“We went to Ames last year, and you see how big this is,” White said. “It’s big for everyone. This is a huge rivalry. I’m sure all the Hawkeye fans are happy.”
Perhaps most symbolic of Friday night’s win was in the moments after the final buzzer. A portion of the student section ran down courtside to celebrate with the players and coaches. The fans loved it. So did the players.
This is an NCAA Tournament resumé builder. Definitely a notable win on the schedule. Wichita State and Virginia Tech, the only squads to have beaten head coach Fran McCaffery’s squad this season, are both undefeated.
Remember, this was a program that had its worst season in school history just three years ago. A lot has changed since then.
“We executed much better at critical points in the game,” McCaffery said. “Our losses against Wichita State and West Virginia, we didn’t do that. I think we fought in both games, but we didn’t execute.
“And tonight, we executed.”