Tag: Aaron White

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No. 2 Gonzaga wraps up first Sweet 16 appearance since 2009

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Balanced scoring has been a key for No. 2 Gonzaga throughout the season, so it’s no surprise that Mark Few’s team put together that kind of effort in their 87-68 win over No. 7 Iowa to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009. The Bulldogs shot 61.5 percent from the field and 10-for-16 from beyond the arc, with junior forward Kyle Wiltjer leading the way with 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

After having issues offensively at times last season, Gonzaga’s been one of the best offensive teams in the country this season with Wiltjer’s addition being one of the key reasons why. His ability to hit shots from just about anywhere on the court gives Gonzaga a level of offensive spacing that they didn’t enjoy last year. Add in their ball and player movement, and the Bulldogs are an incredibly difficult team to slow down.

Wiltjer scored 13 of his points in the first half, and with Gary Bell Jr. and Domantas Sabonis adding eight apiece Gonzaga was able to build a 17-point halftime lead. Thirteen of Gonzaga’s 18 made field goals in the first half were assisted, and four players finished the game with at least three assists. Joining Wiltjer in double figures were Bell Jr. (ten points, four assists), Kevin Pangos (16 points, three assists) and Domantas Sabonis (18 points, nine rebounds).

Iowa managed to cut the halftime deficit to 11 with 10:50 remaning thanks in large part to the tandem of Jarrod Uthoff (20 points, eight rebounds) and Aaron White (19 points). However a 9-0 Gonzaga run combined with a stretch of nearly six minutes without a basket for the Hawkeyes removed any lingering doubt.

Next up for Gonzaga is No. 11 UCLA Friday night in Houston, and the two met earlier this season with the Bulldogs winning in Los Angeles. These teams are different than they were at that time, especially with UCLA playing with more confidence now than they did in December.

As for Gonzaga, they’ve managed to rebound from their second loss of the season with five straight wins by nine points or more. And Sunday’s win gets the program back into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years.

Even though Gonzaga’s been the lower seed in four of their last five NCAA tournament defeats, with the lone exception being their loss to Wichita State in 2013, detractors have been quick to point out the program’s lack of success in March. Sunday’s win may (or may not) quiet some of that chatter, but given their talent and depth this current group is capable of a lot more than just two wins.

Aaron White’s hot streak continues, No. 7 Iowa beats No. 10 Davidson

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After the way that collapsed down the stretch of the 2013-2014 season, and after the way things looked headed midway through the Big Ten season — Iowa lost five of seven at one point, a stretch ended up losses to Northwestern and Minnesota — I’m not sure even the most optimistic Hawkeyes fan could have predicted that this group would be one of the hottest teams in the country during the NCAA tournament.

But here we are.

No. 7 Iowa mopped the floor with Atlantic 10 regular season champion No. 10 Davidson on Friday night, beating them 83-52 in a game that never really seemed to be in doubt. They’ve now won seven of their last eight games, including a run of six in a row to close out the regular season.

What has happened?

For starters, head coach Fran McCaffery has reminded his star Aaron White that he is, in fact, a star. White had 26 points and six boards, shooting 11-for-14 from the floor, in Friday night’s win. It’s the sixth straight game that White has gone for more than 20 points, something that hasn’t been done by an Iowa player since 1984.

Mike Gesell, Jarrod Uthoff and Gabe Olaseni have also played well of late, but more than anything, the Hawkeyes finally seem to be playing with some confidence. And that, at the end of the day, may be the biggest difference. Look, there was never any question about the talent on this roster. McCaffery has quality pieces at his disposal. But inconsistency — particularly under pressure — has plagued this program in recent years. Consistency is about confidence, and confidence is a funny thing. It runs downhill, and when your star player is playing the best basketball of his life, quite often that results in the rest of that team playing better.

Whatever the case may be, a 31-point beatdown of the Atlantic 10 regular season champion is impressive, and if Iowa does end up facing No. 2 Gonzaga in the Round of 32, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick as to give the Zags a free pass to the Sweet 16.

Weekly Awards: Sir’Dominic Pointer and Baylor shine in a wild week of hoops

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s

Pointer was sensational this week as the Johnnies landed two critical wins that have punched their NCAA tournament ticket. In a win over Xavier on Monday, Pointer had 19 points, nine boards, six blocks, four steals and three assists, following that up with 24 points, 10 boards, two blocks and two assists in a double-digit win over Georgetown on Saturday.

The two wins this week completed a stretch of seven games where St. John’s won six out of seven, a stretch that has taken this team from NIT-bound to the NCAA tournament. At one point in time, the Johnnies were just 3-6 in Big East play, and without the energy that Pointer has brought to this team, they would not have made this turnaround. As good as Kris Dunn, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and about half of Villanova’s roster has been, Pointer has been the best player in the Big East this year, and he’s proven it of late.


  • Aaron White, Iowa: Iowa landed a pair of critical wins for their tournament resume, beating Illinois and winning at Penn State in overtime. White had 29 points and nine boards against Illinois and followed up with 21 points and 14 boards over the weekend.
  • Justise Winslow, Duke: Winslow was terrific this week for the Blue Devils, just as he has been terrific for them for the past month. After posting 15 and seven in the overtime win at Virginia Tech, he went for a career-high 23 points, nine boards and three blocks against Syracuse. When Winslow plays like this, Duke is much more dangerous.
  • Derrick Marks, Boise State: Marks went for 30 points, five boards and five assists in a win over New Mexico, following that up with 18 points to lead the Broncos to a win at San Diego State. The win may end up getting Boise State into the tournament.
  • Jarrell Martin, LSU: The Tigers kept themselves on the right side of the bubble with wins over Auburn and Ole Miss, and Martin starred in both, averaging 21.5 points and 12.0 boards.
  • Trey Lyles, Kentucky: Lyles scored 18 points in back-to-back games, giving Kentucky yet another player that can take over a game.
  • Notables: Obi Emegano (Oral Roberts), Nigel Johnson (Kansas State)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Baylor Bears

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Baylor picked up one of the most impressive wins of the season on Wednesday night, as they went into Hilton Coliseum, one of the toughest road venues in the country, and knocked off Iowa State. They followed that up with an impressive win over a short-handed West Virginia team, putting Scott Drew’s team in a great position to land a top three seed when the brackets are released in two weeks. I still feel like I don’t really have a grasp on this team, but at some point, you have to respect a team that can get to the offensive glass and shoot the three the way that Baylor can.


  • Kansas State: The Wildcats knocked off the two best teams in the Big 12 this week, picking off both Kansas and Iowa State in Manhattan. All of a sudden. Kansas State — despite having a 15-15 record — has a chance to go to the NCAA tournament.
  • BYU: The Cougars did what they needed to do in order to have a chance at earning an at-large bid, by going into Spokane and knocking off Gonzaga. They’re not a lock for the tournament yet, but they’re close.
  • Maryland: The Terps beat Michigan on Saturday, a win that followed up their upset of No. 5 Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Dez Wells and Melo Trimble were fantastic all week long.
  • Villanova: While the rest of the potential No. 1 sees seem to be limping their way into the NCAA tournament, Villanova is playing as well as they have all year long. They beat Providence by 28 points on Tuesday, following that up with a 12 point win at Xavier.
  • Wichita State: The Shockers smacked around Northern Iowa in Koch Arena on Saturday, a win that earned them the Missouri Valley regular season title.
  • Notables: Iowa, Arizona, Boise State


  • No. 16 Oklahoma at No. 12 Iowa State, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 20 West Virginia at No. 8 Kansas, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 17 Louisville, Wed. 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 8 Kansas at No. 16 Oklahoma, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 2 Virginia at No. 17 Louisville, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 4 Duke at No. 15 North Carolina, Sat. 9:00 p.m.