Iowa City, Ia. — Iowa’s basketball team won a total of 21 games in Eric May’s first two seasons in uniform. Its Big Ten record was 8-28.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes put the wraps on a 20-11 season, and a 9-9 Big Ten record, with a 74-60 victory against Nebraska before a sellout crowd of 15,400 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“That’s what happens when you stick with it, and just grind it out,” said May, a senior who was honored before the game. “You put in the work, the results are going to come. When you look back to where we started my freshman year, I don’t know that anyone thought we’d be having this discussion right now.”
Iowa reached the 20-win mark for the 24th time in school history, but the first since the 2005-06 season. Fran McCaffery, who got his 300th career victory Saturday, is the seventh Iowa coach to reach 20 wins.
“I’m happy for Eric to be the captain of a 20-win team,” McCaffery said. “I’m happy for the team to have accomplished this, but we’re not done. You never want to be satisfied.”
Iowa ended up sixth in the Big Ten standings, the first first-division finish since the 2006-07 season. The Hawkeyes meet Northwestern, the No. 11 seed, in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday at the United Center in Chicago, Ill. Tip will be approximately 8 p.m.
Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe were freshmen in 2010-11 when Iowa won 10 games, and went 4-14 in the Big Ten, in McCaffery’s first season.
“Twenty feels good, and it feels even better when you were part of the losing and you really had to work to get to where you’re at,” Marble said.
Averaging better than 19 points during the previous seven games, Marble was limited to six and made just two of nine shots against the Cornhuskers (14-17, 5-13). But his first basket, a 3-pointer, let him pass the 1,000-point mark for his career. Marble’s father Roy is Iowa’s all-time scoring leader with 2,116 points. They are the first father-son tandem in Big Ten history to reach a grand.
“I think it means more to him than it does to me,” Devyn said. “I probably won’t think too much about it until after I graduate.”
Iowa’s front line, 20-for-25 from the field, made up for Marble’s lack of offense. White, who finished with 19 points, and Basabe, who recorded his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds, were both 5-for-7 from the field. Adam Woodbury was a perfect 6-for-6 for his 12 points. Off the bench, Gabe Olaseni and Zach McCabe were a combined 4-of-5.
White had three dunks, Olaseni two and Basabe one. Iowa had a 38-20 edge in points in the paint.
“You don’t allow that many dunks and usually have it go your way,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
That front-line efficiency helped the Hawkeyes shoot a season-best 57.1 percent from the field, including 72.7 percent the second half (16-of-22). Iowa also had 21 assists on 28 made field goals.
Nebraska, getting 22 points from Ray Gallegos, including seven 3-pointers in 13 attempts, rode his jumper to cut an 11-point deficit to 43-42. Shortly after, with Iowa’s lead 46-44, the Hawkeyes went on a 19-0 run to put the game away.
The first 13 points of that run came with Marble and White, the team’s two leading scorers, on the bench. Freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons, who had a jumper and a 3-pointer in the run, finished with 11 points.
“That shows that we’re a deep team,” White said.
Now it’s on to Chicago, and a chance to make a deep run and sneak into the NCAA Tournament instead of a second straight NIT appearance.
“It’s all about the next step,” White said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball