Devyn Marble is hurt.
At least, we thought so.
There has been talks all week about Marble and his turf toe injury and if this was slowing him down at all. He put all the speculation to rest with his 21 point outburst Saturday night in Iowa City where he led the Hawkeyes to a 71-57 win over the Northwestern Wildcats. Marble wasted no time getting in on the action as he started the game off with a monster dunk to give the Hawkeyes the lead.
“He was spectacular,” Fran McCaffery said of Marble’s play.
Spectacular indeed, Marble followed up his dunk by burying a three pointer to kick-start no only the team, but himself.
Marble credited his performance to his teammates, saying he simply had easier looks this time around. Marble shot 8 of 13 from the floor which is significantly better than his previous five performances where combined to shoot just 8 of 44.
“It’s been tough, but nothing I can’t handle” said Marble of his recent setback. If you’re a Hawkeye fan you have got to be pleased to see him get going especially when the Hawkeyes still in the far regions of tournament contention.
Northwestern (13-11, 4-7) had either lead or kept close tabs with Iowa throughout most of the first half and also spent most of it playing in a man-to-man defense as opposed to their lethal 1-3-1 that they soon switched to after Iowa went on a small run. This seemed to be working for them as the game remained close throughout the start of the second half. Unfortunately for the Wildcats Alex Olah, their 7′ center went down with an apparent head injury and was soon followed by a Jared Swopshire ankle injury that kept them out for the remainder of the game.
After the Swopshire injury you saw the Hawkeyes start to take more control over the game. Iowa went on a 10-0 run from about the 14 to the 11 minute mark started by a Josh Oglesby deep three in the corner and then capped by another one. While McCaffery took note of Oglesby’s offensive play he really wanted to point out his defense, “Josh may have been our most solid defender, he doesn’t make mistakes.” Oglesby finished with 10 points on 2 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc.
At 15-9 the Hawkeyes still have a chance to make an NCAA Tournament run and with four of their last seven at home, where they have been a significantly better team, they can certainly make that happen. If you’re looking ahead to a game or two where they could potentially get a signature win to boost their tournament resume, they have Minnesota at home on February 17th and then they go to Assembly Hall on March 2nd to take on the now number one ranked Hoosiers.
They absolutely have to come away with one of these games if they have any chance of making the tournament while also taking care of business against the likes of Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue and on Valentines Day when they travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions.