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Big Four Classic: Devyn Marble leads Iowa past Northern Iowa

[ 0 ] December 15, 2012 |

Devyn Marble was doing a television interview Saturday, wearing a hat, when Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery came around the corner.

“Take it off,” McCaffery whispered.

Marble immediately removed his lid. Image is everything. Marble is coachable. And Saturday, he was nearly unstoppable.

The Iowa junior poured in 30 points, one shy of his career high, and led Iowa to an 80-73 victory over Northern Iowa in the inaugual Hy-Vee Classic at Wells Fargo Arena before an announced crowd of 13,180.

Asked what Marble did well, Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson, said, “Everything.”

Marble had a season-high four 3-pointers. He made 14-of-19 free throws, both career highs, and added four rebounds, two blocks, two assists and just one turnover in 37 minutes.

“It just looked to me that he was really determined to make sure we won the game,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after his team improved to 9-2.

Freshman guard Mike Gesell added a career-high 23 points for the Hawkeyes. Gesell made four 3-pointers in six tries. He made his first attempt less than 2 minutes into the game.

“I hit my first one, and that’s always a good feeling,” Gesell said. “The hoop was looking big to me. I knew I had to stay aggressive and keep shooting. That got some of the other guys going.”

Marble, in particular. Five of Iowa’s first six field goals were 3-pointers. Marble made the first, Gesell the next three. Iowa never relinquished the lead after that.

“Certainly the difference in the first half, and maybe the difference in the game, was that early stretch with Marble and Gesell,” Jacobson said.

Iowa finished with nine 3-pointers in the first half, in just 16 attempts. The Hawkeyes’ previous high in a game this season had been eight on two occasions.

“We knew who their shooters were,” said the Panthers

’ Deon Mitchell, who led his team with 23 points. “We knew where they were. We just weren’t getting there in time. We were giving them open looks.”

Iowa finished the game with 12 triples in 25 tries.

“The way they defend, they close out hard on penetration and really wall off the basket,” McCaffery said. “You’re going to get open shots. You’ve just got to make them.”

Northern Iowa entered the game 15th nationally in 3-pointers made with an 8.4 average. But they finished just 3-for-16. Last season, in an 80-60 win over the Hawkeyes in Cedar Falls, the Panthers made 11 treys in 21 tries. That was an area of emphasis as Iowa prepared for Saturday’s game.

“We didn’t do a good job of getting out on their shooters (last year).” McCaffery said. “ I thought it was important that we were able to get out to them and really contest them. Last year we gave them catch-and-shoot 3s.”

Jacobson said Iowa’s shooting from 3 didn’t surprise him, but Marble’s quick trigger from that distance did. His nine 3-point attempts were a career high.

“Marble hasn’t taken that many 3s, and usually he’s a little more selective,” Jacobson said.

Marble used his 6-foot-6 height to shoot over Northern Iowa’s guards. And when the Panthers got out to him on the 3-point line, Marble put it on the floor and got fouled on his way to the hoop.

His 14 made free throws were the most for an Iowa player since Adam Haluska went 16-of-18 against Northwestern in 2007. It was the most free throws attempted by a Hawkeye since Reggie Evans shot 22 against Purdue in 2001.

Marble was aggressive all game after taking some advice from assistant coach Andrew Francis to heart.

“He told me to come out, be smart and aggressive,” Marble said. “I felt like I did a good job of doing that.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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