Davidson’s Bob McKillop thought Aaron White would one day be a high NBA draft choice after coaching White on the U.S. team in the 2013 World University Games.
There was nothing in how White played in Iowa’s 83-52 second-round NCAA tournament victory at KeyArena on Friday against Davidson that could have changed McKillop’s mind.
White scored 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting, helping the seventh-seed Hawkeyes (22-11) finish the No. 10 Wildcats’ season.
“I said (Thursday) I thought (White) was a first-round pick,” said McKillop. “And how high in the first round would be dictated by how he does during his performance in this tournament.
“He certainly validated what I said.”
White, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, took over for Iowa in the second half, scoring 13 consecutive points during one stretch as the Hawkeyes overwhelmed Davidson (24-8) with their size and athleticism.
The game matched Davidson’s smaller lineup that relies on 3-point shooting and constant motion against an Iowa team that featured three starters who are 6-foot-9 or taller.
The Hawkeyes used that size on the perimeter to shut down Davidson’s 3-point shooters before they could get open looks.
“I thought every shot I took was going down, but (the Hawkeyes) were alert,” said Wildcats guard Brian Sullivan. “Credit to them. They did a great job guarding the 3-point line and disrupting us.”
Davidson, which entered the game averaging 77.1 points and was making 39.4 percent of its 3-pointers, shot 33.3 percent from the field Friday and made just six-of-28 3-pointers.
“It’s not easy against (Davidson) because they have 3-point shooters who can drive,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “Our length disrupted their ability to get comfortable 3s and we didn’t give up a lot of driving ‘kick’ 3s, either.”
Compounding Davidson’s problems was the absence for much of the first half of senior guard Tyler Kalinoski, the Atlantic 10’s player of the year who picked up his third foul with 8:20 left.
Kalinoski had left the game minutes earlier with his second foul, but was put back in by McKillop while the game was still close. But he was quickly whistled for a third foul and sat out the rest of the half. Kalinoski finished with five points in 28 minutes.
“(Kalinoski) is the main leader of our team, and he knows the ins and outs of playing in the NCAA tournament,” said sophomore guard Jack Gibbs (14 points). “When you lose that kind of experience, it definitely makes it hard playing without him.”
McKillop acknowledged bringing Kalinoski back in the game was chancy.
“I thought that’s how we could win the game, by (taking risks),” said McKillop. “I probably wouldn’t do it that way again. He was put in a very difficult situation. Getting that third foul really disrupted his rhythm offensively and defensively.”
It might not have mattered, not with how well White, an all-Big 10 player, was performing.
“When you have somebody with his caliber and character, you try to use him in a variety of ways,” said McCaffery, a former UNC Greensboro coach. “The thing that is beautiful about him is he can dominate a game and not score 26. But when he gets going, it’s incumbent on (us) to get him the ball.”
The victory ended a surprisingly successful season for Davidson, which won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title in its first year in the league.
“It’s hard to look back now, because I’m so disappointed,” said Sullivan. “Outside the locker room, the expectations weren’t very high for us. But I learned that about our belief in ourselves and what we’re capable of. I don’t feel it right now, but, big picture, it was a tremendous year for us.”
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14