IOWA CITY, Ia. Sunday will not go down as a significant victory for this Iowa basketball team.
“But it could have been a significant loss,” acknowledged Hawkeye guard Devyn Marble.
Iowa rallied from a 43-36 halftime deficit to beat underdog Nebraska-Omaha 83-75, before an announced crowd of 14,271 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Mavericks led for more than 24 minutes. It was still tied 66-all with 6 minutes to play. But guard Anthony Clemmons hit a 3-pointer to jumpstart a 15-3 run that let Iowa avoid a stunning loss.
“That was a shot we needed,” Clemmons said. “Luckily, I had an open look.”
Iowa appeared listless and out of step in the first half. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery credited Nebraska-Omaha coach Derrin Hansen for putting together a strong game plan “that they executed to perfection.”
The Hawkeyes compounded their own issues with 12 first-half turnovers that led to 16 of the Mavericks’ points. Nebraska-Omaha also hit some deep 3-pointers late in the shot clock, including one kiss off the glass, that gave Iowa players that sinking feeling that it was going to be one of those nights.
“It can happen on any given night,” Iowa’s Aaron White said. “There’s a reason those guys are on scholarship, and the athletes they are.”
Melsahn Basabe, who played with the high energy McCaffery loves and finished with seven points and nine rebounds, said his coach was calm at halftime.
“He didn’t come in and curse us out,” Basabe said. “He kept it very simple.”
Nebraska-Omaha ended up taking 28 3-pointers. Two of their eight makes were banked. But its guards created all kinds of problems for Iowa’s defense with dribble penetration. McCaffery eventually switched to a zone in the second half that was also pivotal in the outcome.
“We had the tempo in our favor for awhile,” said Hansen, whose team is picked to finish in the bottom half of the Summit League. “They were able to change that.”
The Mavericks got off 71 shots from the field, 15 more than Iowa. But the Hawkeyes started to attack the basket in the second half and ended up 38-for-49 from the free-throw line. The Mavericks were just 11-for-16.
When Hansen put together his scouting report on the Hawkeyes, he thought White was his team’s toughest matchup. He was right — White finished the game with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
“I think the most impressive thing to me is his understanding of what was needed in a very difficult game,” McCaffery said of White after his ninth career double-double. “Somebody’s got to step up and play the way he played.”
White made 10-of-12 free throws. Marble struggled from the field, going 2-for-13 and missing all five 3-point attempts. But he made 11-of-14 free throws and finished with 15 points. Zach McCabe added 12 and Clemmons 11.
McCaffery moved Marble to the two-guard spot and put Clemmons at the point, which enabled his team to do a better job of attacking the basket. Mike Gesell, the starting two-guard, played just 14 minutes.
“I think his confidence, he’s struggling a little bit with that,” McCaffery said. “We’ll get him straightened out.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball