SEATTLE — Davidson was the outlier and that's what made the Wildcats successful. They aimed to score, playing with a fast and free attitude that led them to the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season title.
When the Wildcats got their first glimpse of the size and length of Iowa on Friday in their NCAA Tournament opener, fast and free suddenly became conservative.
"It seemed like every shot we took, every pass we made, there was length there," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "I've never seen our guys as tentative, as hesitant as they were."
Aaron White was the main culprit, scoring 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.
White finished with 26 points as Iowa (22-11) used its significant height advantage to overwhelm the champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season. Davidson had no answers on defense and couldn't match Iowa's shooting as the Hawkeyes won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2001 when they were also a No. 7 seed and won their opener.
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.
Couple Kalinoski's foul trouble with the Wildcats getting few clean looks from the perimeter and what was a close game for stretches quickly turned into a blowout when White took over.
"I just think we didn't do a great job of just getting stops," Kalinoski said. "You know, we made a run but it kind of turned into we make a basket, they make a basket and you're never going to get back into the game when that happens."
Iowa's lead was 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 7 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 lead was 18.
White made 11 of 14 shots and the Hawkeyes shot 57 percent in the second half. It was the largest margin of victory in Iowa's tournament history.
"I'm not sure we can play much better than we played in this game," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I'm really proud of our team, their focus."
McKillop coached White during the World University Games in the summer of 2013. He wasn't surprised to see White's big game.
"I said yesterday I thought he was a first-round pick and how high in the first round would be dictated by how he does during this performance and, or during, this tournament, and he certainly validated what I said yesterday," McKillop said.
While White helped Iowa finally pull away, the Hawkeyes first took control when Kalinoski went to the bench with three fouls with 8 minutes left in the first half. Kalinoski was called for his third foul impeding White's attempt to post up on the block.
"It was a risk," McKillop said of playing Kalinoski with two fouls. "We had to risk to be successful tonight. Probably wouldn't have done it if I had that opportunity again."
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.
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 or No. 15 seed North Dakota State in the round of 32 on Sunday.