IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa guard Devyn Marble wanted to prove he’s worthy of discussion as a Big Ten player of the year candidate. By scoring 26 points to lead No. 17 Iowa in a rout past No. 10 Michigan 85-67 on Saturday, he may have put his name in the discussion.
A 6-foot-6 senior, Marble scored Iowa’s first nine points and had 22 by halftime on 8-of-13 shooting. Marble, a 6-foot-6 native of Southfield, Mich., scored Iowa’s first nine points on 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 10 from 3-point range and had two assists.
“He has very high expectations of himself,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said of Marble. “He’s a tremendous leader. There’s never a hangover with him. If he doesn’t play well or if he has an off-night, he just comes right back to work, and he’s incredibly professional that way.”
Added Michigan coach John Beilein, “That was a player-of-the-year candidate performance today, for sure.”
Iowa’s efficiency early proved to be the difference. When Michigan crept within six points at 16-10, Iowa took off on an 11-1 run that essentially ended the contest. Marble scored on a layup and a 3-pointer to push the score to 21-10.
Iowa center Gabe Olaseni scored inside and hit one of two free throws to move it to 24-10. After Michigan guard Caris LeVert sank one free throw, Iowa’s Zach McCabe buried a 3-pointer to push Iowa ahead 27-11.
Marble continued to shine the rest of the half. He answered mid-half Michigan baskets with a jumper and a 3-pointer to put Iowa up 36-25. Marble ended the half by drilling a 3-pointer with one second left to give the Hawkeyes a 14-point halftime lead.
“He got loose on the wings and hit some shots,” LeVert said.
Marble, who entered the game averaging 16.0 points a game, had scored just a combined 18 points in first halves of his last six games.
“I needed to come out and be aggressive,” Marble said. “I’ve had my fair share of games just offensively where I’ve being inactive in the first half. I wanted to come out and be just a little bit more aggressive than I normally am.”
Iowa (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten) continued to pour it on after halftime. Three consecutive possessions ended with scores, including a 3-pointer and pair of free throws by point guard Mike Gesell.
The win ended a two-game home losing skid for Iowa. The Hawkeyes previously had won 20 straight before back-to-back home losses to Michigan State and Ohio State. Iowa also had struggled against top-20 programs this season, winning just one of seven before Saturday. This was the first time since 2005-06 that Iowa had beaten two top-10 programs in the same season.
Marble’s defensive performance against Michigan’s Nik Stauskas also proved pivotal. Stauskas scored 26 points against the Hawkeyes in a 75-67 Michigan win on Jan. 22 in Ann Arbor. McCaffery had forward Aaron White guard Stauskas in the previous meeting to free Marble up offensively. McCaffery decided it was better to use Marble on Stauskas, and it worked.
“I just said, ‘You’ve got to go get him and you’ve got to do it at both ends,’ and when he does that, I think it has great impact on everyone else’s energy and everybody else’s performance,” McCaffery said. “I thought collectively, to a man, everybody I put in the game played well.
“A lot of people probably feel he’s the best player in our conference, and I just wanted to put my say in there without having to say a word,” Marble said. “I wanted him to be uncomfortable. I wanted to take away his strength. I didn’t want him to come in here and have 26 and how comfortable he got that 26.”
Gesell scored 10 points, dished eight assists and grabbed four rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Aaron White had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Michigan (17-6, 9-2 Big Ten), which beat Iowa 75-67 on Jan. 22 in Ann Arbor, was led by LeVert, who scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds. Zak Irvin scored 19 points for the Wolverines.
Iowa had 22 assists on 29 baskets, including nine on its first 10 scores in the first half. The Big Ten’s leading rebounding team, Iowa outrebounded Michigan 38-29. Iowa registered nine
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