Aaron White took a glimpse at the Davidson roster and every matchup he could possibly face was in his favor.
A big night was in order for Iowa’s star. And once White got rolling, the Hawkeyes couldn’t be stopped.
White scored 13 straight points as part of Iowa’s 18-3 run early in the second half, and the seventh-seeded Hawkeyes rolled into the South Region round of 32 with an 83-52 rout of No. 10 seed Davidson on Friday.
It was a nearly flawless performance for the Hawkeyes. They used their length to frustrate Davidson at the defensive end and the Wildcats had no answers for Iowa’s superior size on offense.
The result was the biggest blowout win in Iowa’s NCAA tournament history and the Hawkeyes first victory in the NCAAs since 2001.
"When he gets going like that, it becomes infectious to the rest of the team," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "When you’re playing at the energy level that he plays with, that’s what everybody else wants to do."
White finished with 26 points and made 11 of 14 shots as the Hawkeyes shot 57 percent in the second half. Mike Gesell added 15 points and Peter Jok scored 12 for Iowa.
Iowa was a question entering the tournament after getting knocked out of the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals by Penn State, the 13th place team in the conference. Any doubt was erased with a strong first half and White’s performance in the final 20 minutes.
"I thought as a group we were real professional in how we approached the game, watching film, listening to the game plan from the coaches, and executing that on the floor," White said. "It’s one thing to understand it and to know it, it’s another thing to turn that around and execute on the floor. We were able to do that."
Iowa led by nine when White got hot. He scored on seven of eight Iowa possessions and did a little of everything. He worked on the post and scored inside, showed his explosiveness with a thunderous dunk and hit an open 3-pointer. In a span of seven minutes, White scored 17 of Iowa’s 22 points. By the time Brian Sullivan hit a 3 for Davidson to slow the run, the Hawkeyes led by 18.
"There was a stretch there where I was just feeling confident, feeling good with my shot, with my hook shot and I was finishing around the basket," White said. "But most of the credit goes to my teammates and the coach for running stuff for me."
Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge scored 14 to lead Davidson (24-8), but the Wildcats never overcame three early fouls on Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 player of the year. Kalinoski went the final 35 minutes without scoring, and finished with five points, snapping a string of 21 straight games in double figures.
While White helped Iowa finally pull away, the Hawkeyes first took control when Kalinoski went to the bench with three fouls with eight minutes left in the first half. Kalinoski was called for his third foul impeding White’s attempt to post up on the block.
White hit both free throws and started a 16-4 run that gave the Hawkeyes a 34-19 lead when Jok hit his second 3-pointer of the half. Gibbs scored 10 of his 12 first-half point in the final 5:18 and got the Wildcats back within 38-29 by halftime.
For the third straight game, Davidson trailed by at least nine points at halftime. They were able to overcome the deficit to beat La Salle in the A-10 quarterfinals, but were blown out by VCU in the semifinals after trailing by 16 at the half and again by the Hawkeyes.
"I definitely think they had an advantage with the size and it kind of affected us," Kalinoski said. "I thought we rushed a little bit, a little bit with our shots. We didn’t do a great job rebounding in the first half. Their size definitely posed a problem for us."
Davidson: The Wildcats have lost their last two NCAA openers … Kalinoski had avoided foul trouble most of the season. In 18 of 31 games, he picked up two or fewer fouls and he fouled out three times.
Iowa: Coach Fran McCaffery picked up his first NCAA victory with the Hawkeyes and his third in seven overall appearances with four different schools. … Iowa hasn’t advanced to the second weekend of the tournament since 1999.
Davidson: Season over.
Iowa: Will face either No. 2 seed Gonzaga in the Round of 32 on Sunday.