IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa entered Tuesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge game averaging 89 points a game. Notre Dame was close behind, at 83.7. And then both teams went out and padded their averages.
The 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes had a little more in the tank, leaving sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 98-93 victory.
“Neither one of us could guard the other,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said after a game when both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field. “Give Iowa credit. They made big plays and big free throws down the stretch.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, whose team made 12 out of 14 free throws in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the game, acknowledged it wasn’t a great defensive effort.
But offense deserved some of the credit for that.
“We had to score 98 to get them,” McCaffery said.
Iowa shot 56.9 percent from the field, made 25 of 29 free throws overall and had five players hit double figures to win for just the third time in 11 ACC/Big Ten Challenge games and the first since 2005.
Aaron White led Iowa with 20 points, eclipsing 1,000 points for his career.
“Very cool,” White said. “Nine games into my junior year, it’s a blessing.”
White also had a team-high seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
“That’s the best thing,” White said of the assists.
Devyn Marble and Jarrod Uthoff scored 17 apiece. A 16-3 Notre Dame run over the two halves had given the Irish a 57-55 lead with just under 16 minutes to play. Marble scored Iowa’s next 13 points. The Hawkeyes never trailed again.
“Dev put us on his back in that stretch,” McCaffery said.
Marble had said McCaffery didn’t tell him he needed to provide a spark. He knew it.
“I think that’s what my role is on the team,” Marble said. “That’s what McCaffery wants me to do. Sometimes, it’s what the guys need me to do. Our confidence level, and the way we were playing, wasn’t the same. I think my ability to do that got other guys over the hump to be more aggressive and not to be as timid.”
Notre Dame center Garrick Sherman, a senior who started his career at Michigan State and had never scored more than 14 points in a game, had 29 and made 12 of 18 shots from the field. Iowa played Sherman straight-up to keep an eye on Notre Dame’s shooters.
“We felt like if we held them under 10 3s, we’d win the game,” McCaffery said. “And it didn’t look like a great theory there for awhile. I was just afraid to double down. (Sherman’s) a really good passer. And they had four shooters when they went small.”
Notre Dame (5-2) shot 51.5 percent from the field and 8-for-17 on 3-pointers. Iowa was 7-for-13.
“I don’t think either of us played great defense,” McCaffery said. “But I think both teams were really trying and competing defensively. There were some really talented players going at it. Sometimes it’s hard to stop people.”
Iowa (8-1) returns to action against Drake at 7:30 p.m. in the Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball