Marble breaks out of slump to lead Hawkeyes
By LUKE MEREDITH
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
IOWA CITY – Iowa star Devyn Marble kept insisting he was fine, even as a month of evidence suggested otherwise.
Marble proved it with a slump-busting performance for a Hawkeyes team that desperately needed the boost.
Marble cracked the 20-point plateau for the first time in two months and Iowa beat Northwestern 71-57 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak.
Josh Oglesby added 10 for the Hawkeyes (15-9, 4-7 Big Ten), who won for just the second time in six games.
Marble, Iowa’s second-leading scorer, put together his best scoring night since December as the Hawkeyes bounced back from a double-overtime loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday.
“He was spectacular. No question about it,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Reggie Hearn had 13 to lead Northwestern, which let the Hawkeyes take control with a 10-0 run midway through the second half.
The Wildcats (13-11, 4-7) shot just 24 percent from 3-point range and lost for the third time in four games.
“We didn’t make shots. They had something to do with that,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.
Marble entered play in a staggering spiral, with just 21 baskets on 83 tries in Big Ten play and just two points in his last two games.
He was the best player on the floor Saturday.
Marble got himself going on the first play, soaring from the wing for a two-handed slam. He followed it up with a long 3-pointer and a little hook shot from about five feet that put Iowa ahead 19-17.
Marble continued his strong play in the second half, grabbing a rebound for a putback to put the Hawkeyes ahead by nine. Josh Oglesby followed with a 3 as Iowa stretched its lead to 50-38, capping the 10-0 run that put the game out of reach.
“Devyn played great. It looked like he was in a really good flow, seeing the court, making plays,” Iowa senior Eric May said. “It’s really good to have him playing like that.”
Marble shot 8 of 13 form the floor and added five rebounds and five assists.
“I got easier buckets. I was just in a rhythm, and when you get easy buckets it makes the game a lot easier to play,” Marble said. “Everything about the game was just flowing.”
The Hawkeyes entered play with five Big Ten losses by four points or less – the last one a 74-70 loss to the Badgers.
They responded with their second easy win over Northwestern, which lost at home to Iowa 70-50 last month.
Marble helped Iowa overcome the spotty play of leading scorer Aaron White, who had as many baskets for Northwestern as he did for Iowa in the first half. He inadvertently tipped in a Wildcats’ shot while hitting just one bucket – a lucky bank shot heaved in panic.
Thanks largely to Marble’s nine points and four assists, the Hawkeyes led 29-25 at halftime.
White finished with seven points, but Marble was there to pick him up.
“Devyn never blamed anybody. He just kept working,” McCaffery said. “He’s got phenomenal character. When you’ve got character, you’re going to play through this stuff.”
Northwestern’s Alex Olah was taken to the locker room after a blow to the head early in the second half, and Carmody said after the game that Olah could have suffered a concussion.
Jared Swopshire was then helped to the bench with 13:41 left with a right leg injury after being fouled near the basket, though Carmody wasn’t certain whether it was an ankle or a knee injury.
The pair combined for 11 points and 11 rebounds in the first half.
“The game certainly wasn’t lost because of that,” Carmody said of the absence of Olah and Swopshire.