Iowa routs Texas-Pan American 86-55
Freshmen play key roles in Iowa's 86-55 rout of Texas-Pan American
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's touted freshmen can play.
Center Adam Woodbury scored 10 points and point guard Mike Gesell looked sharp running the fast-paced offense in their college debuts as Iowa beat Texas-Pan American 86-55 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
"They're big-time," said sophomore Aaron White, who led the Hawkeyes with 16 points.
Aaron Urbanus and Brandon Provost each scored 13 points to lead Texas-Pan American, which started the game down 17-2 and never recovered.
Woodbury and Gesell highlight an impressive freshman class that joins a deep nucleus of returning players. The Hawkeyes are optimistic they can end a seven-year NCAA tournament drought.
Woodbury were consensus top-100 recruits and AAU teammates. Coach Fran McCaffery's recruiting class was ranked in the top 20 in the country.
The 7-foot-1 Woodbury hit three buckets during a two-minute stretch in the second half. Woodbury, who turned down an offer to play at North Carolina to stay in his home state, added three blocks.
"I grew up my whole life waiting for this moment," Woodbury said. "This is a dream come true for me."
Gesell celebrated his 19th birthday Friday with seven points and postgame cupcakes in the locker room. Two of Gesell's field goals came on pull-up jumpers after shaking a defender on the perimeter with a quick ball-fake.
Senior Zach McCabe scored 14 points and tied a career high with four 3-pointers.
Iowa's defense, a troubling issue at times last year, looked better. McCaffery says that will be a key to this season's success.
The Hawkeyes used a combination of a full-court press and a half-court trap to force 19 turnovers, including 13 in the first half. Iowa blocked 10 shots and four players had at least two blocks.
"I think their full-court pressure is really good, and the guys on ball — White in particular — do a terrific job making it difficult to get the ball inbounds," Texas-Pan American coach Ryan Marks said. "They just kind of dictated the game."
McCaffery's biggest luxury this season might be Iowa's frontcourt depth that allows him to be flexible with lineups.
Junior Melsahn Basabe, who started the first 52 games of his college career, comes off the bench. He scored nine points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Center Gabriel Olaseni might be one of Iowa's most improved players.
"I have a lot of different ways I can go," McCaffery said. "They're fresh. They can all make a play off the dribble."
Devyn Marble, Iowa's leading returning scorer, had 10 points.
Texas-Pan American cut Iowa's early lead to 33-22 with 2:52 left in the first half, but the Hawkeyes ended the half on a 12-2 run. The teams traded baskets to start the second half before Iowa cruised to the win.
Friday's attendance of 14,859 fans was Iowa's largest for a season opener since 2001.
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