COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senior guard Devyn Marble called it the biggest victory of his Iowa basketball career. So far.
“I think we’ve got many more to come,” Marble said after scoring 22 points and leading the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes to an 84-74 upset of No. 3 Ohio State Sunday at Value City Arena. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re getting there. And this is an important step.”
Iowa recorded its first road victory over a top-five team since beating No. 2 Missouri in December of 2001, 83-65. The Hawkeyes snapped a string of nine consecutive losses to top-25 teams, and an eight-game losing streak to the Buckeyes.
And they improved to 3-1 in the Big Ten, and 14-3 overall. Those three losses, to teams currently in the top 10, had defined this season entering play Sunday. Iowa led by double digits in the second half of losses at No. 9 Iowa State and No. 4 Wisconsin and to No. 8 Villanova on a neutral floor this season.
But Sunday, the Hawkeyes turned the page in stunning fashion.
“I was tired of losing games like that, where we know we’re the better team,” said Marble, who outplayed Ohio State all-American guard Aaron Craft down the stretch. “We played like the better team in 85 to 90 percent of the game, and then all of a sudden something goes south.”
Ohio State, now 2-2 in the Big Ten and 14-2 overall, lost consecutive games for just the third time since 2009-10. The Buckeyes never got comfortable with the zone Iowa coach Fran McCaffery threw at them down the stretch of both halves.
“We worked on zone all week, and all season,” said Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross, who finished with 22 points but was blanked during the final 7 minutes. “Sometimes, we forget what we do in practice.”
Iowa outscored the Buckeyes 22-9 during the final 5:38, hitting 10-of-12 free throws.
“People kept asking, ‘Why can’t you win on the road? Why can’t you make big plays down the stretch?’ ” said junior forward Aaron White, an Ohio native who finished with 19 points. “ ‘Why can’t you put two halves together?’ So we answered all those critics.”
McCaffery spoke about the resilience Ohio State showed in a stunning comeback against Notre Dame on Dec. 21 and in Tuesday’s overtime loss at Michigan State, when the Buckeyes closed regulation on a 20-3 run.
“So to beat them, you have to have some of those same characteristics,” McCaffery said. “And I thought we were incredibly resilient.”
Iowa trailed 53-44 with just less than 13 minutes to play. One-of-10 at that point from 3, Mike Gesell, White and Jarrod Uthoff made triples on consecutive possessions to set the table for the stretch run. The Hawkeyes took the lead for good on Uthoff’s baseline drive that made it 66-65 with 4:26 left.
McCaffery made two moves Ohio State coach Thad Matta never countered, moving Marble to point guard with just more than four minutes to play and putting Melsahn Basabe back in the game after Adam Woodbury got his fourth foul with 3:22 left.
Basabe, a senior forward, was huge down the stretch. He had four rebounds, a key offensive tip for a basket after Marble missed with 2:51 left and made 3-of-4 free throws. He finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He also had a double-double Thursday against Northwestern.
“I told him before the game that (double-double) is what we needed,”said Marble. “The one against Northwestern was cool. But now do it against Ohio State.”
Basabe, who had a 22-point, 13-rebound, six-block game against the Buckeyes as a freshman, got his first victory against them in his fifth try.
“We’d been embarrassed by them,” Basabe said. “We needed this. I didn’t want to leave anything on the floor.”
And finally, the Hawkeyes finished what they had started against a ranked foe.
“It was great to get a win like this, because I felt like we deserved it,” Basabe said. “We’d been on the cusp of so many great wins that nobody expected. I wanted it for my coach and my team. I wanted to hold up my end.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball