IOWA CITY, Ia. — Devyn Marble heard all the talk. The naysayers and doubters, throwing him under the bus during the deepest slump of his basketball life.
“Of course I heard it, it’s all over the place,” Marble said.
Marble silenced his critics Saturday, scoring 21 points in Iowa’s much-needed 71-57 Big Ten victory against Northwestern before an announced crowd of 15,267 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Marble, limited to two points, total, in a three-point loss at Minnesota and a double-overtime loss at Wisconsin the previous two games, started play Saturday with a dunk in transition and a 3-pointer.
“That gets you in a rhythm, and a flow,” Marble said.
Marble ended up making eight field goals in 13 attempts, dished out five assists and had five rebounds as the Hawkeyes improved to 4-7 in the Big Ten and 15-9 overall.
Marble had made eight field goals, combined, in Iowa’s previous five games. He had scored a total of 22 points in the previous four games.
“At some point I had to get out of it,” the junior guard said. “Mentally, I’m tough enough to do that. That’s why I’m at where I am today.”
Marble received a boisterous sendoff from the crowd when he left the game with 2 minutes 24 seconds to play and victory well in hand. As he walked into the interview room afterwards, Marble got a huge from Margaret McCaffery, wife of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. He also got a man-sized handshake from his coach. A sense of relief was in the air.
“I’m glad I played well, I’m glad we won,” Marble said. “We still need some more wins.”
McCaffery stuck by Marble during his slide, and was rewarded for his patience on Saturday.
“He was spectacular today, there's no question about it,” McCaffery said.
Northwestern, falling to 13-11 overall and 4-7 in the Big Ten, was the slumpbuster Marble desperately needed.
“He came out and got that first dunk, didn’t he?” said Northwestern coach Bill Carmody, whose team had won at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in their previous two visits. “That sort of jacked him up a little bit, I think. He’s a very good player. Good players go through those kinds of things. I imagine he’s out of that now and we’ll probably see the way he’s played for the rest of his career.”
Marble’s return makes Iowa a much tougher team to defend.
“It changes our running game, it changes our half-court offense,” McCaffery said. “They really have to pay attention to him. He’s such a weapon because he can do so many different things. That’s what he’s going to be for the rest of the year, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
Iowa defeated Northwestern on Jan. 13 in Evanston, 70-50, but the Wildcats were a much more formidable foe this time around. The Wildcats scored one second-chance point in the first meeting. They had eight at halftime Saturday and outrebounded Iowa in the first 20 minutes, 19-13.
The Hawkeyes used better rebounding to pull away in the second half, with an assist. The Wildcats’ center, Alex Olah, left the game at the 18:30 mark of the second half with a possible concussion. Jared Swopshire, Northwestern’s leading rebounder, was lost to a leg injury with 13:41 remaining. Iowa ended up with a 34-31 edge on the glass.
Iowa’s depth was another determining factor. Marble was back in a groove. But Aaron White, who had passed him as the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer, had as many field goals for Northwestern as he did for Iowa. He accidentally tipped in a basket for the Wildcats in the first half, and made just one of five shots at his own team’s basket. It was White’s lowest offensive output since scoring six at Michigan on Jan. 6.
“Obviously it would be nice if our team’s leading scorers were getting 15 or 20 every night,” McCaffery said. “But we haven’t had that kind of team this year. There’s been different lineups on the floor.”
Ten Iowa players saw 12 minutes of action or more Saturday. Josh Oglesby chipped in with 10 points. Seven different players scored at least six points. And
Marble was back in a familiar spot, leading Iowa in scoring with his fourth 20-point-plus game of the season and first since he had 27 against South Carolina State on Dec. 19.
“Devyn just kept working,” McCaffery said. “I told you before, he has phenomenal character. When you have character, you’re going to play through this kind of stuff.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball