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Defense leads to McCaffery's first win at Iowa

BY SETH ROBERTS | NOVEMBER 17, 2010 7:20 AM

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Winning doesn't have to be pretty.

The Iowa men's basketball team (1-1) proved that much Tuesday night, defeating Louisiana-Monroe (0-2), 68-40, in a game in which the two teams combined for 48 turnovers in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Even though the game was sloppy, head coach Fran McCaffery said he was pleased with the effort from the players in his first win at Iowa's helm — especially on the defensive side of the court.

"Defensively, that's about as well as we can play," the coach said. "[We] did a lot of things well: Locked onto their key personnel [and] did some aggressive things in both halves."

The Hawkeyes squeezed 26 turnovers from Monroe and forced the Warhawks to rush most of their shots. The Keith Richard-coached team shot just 31.5 percent from the field as a result, including 18.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

"We just played bad offensively," Richard said. "From a turnover standpoint to a shooting-the-ball standpoint, it was really tough out there. It was tough to watch."

Monroe never led in the game, but stayed within striking distance in the first half because of a sloppy Iowa offense. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over 12 times in the period — leaving McCaffery livid on the sideline — and point guard Cully Payne admitted the team might still be overthinking the offensive schemes.

Sophomore guard Eric May took charge early in the second period with a thunderous dunk, though, and the Hawkeyes never looked back. Ten Iowa players contributed to the team's 39 second-half points.

The Iowa bench ruled the second period, though, putting up 20 points to pull away from the Warhawks. Freshman Roy Devyn Marble channeled his father — Iowa's all-time leading scorer Roy Marble — with nine points on four-for-six shooting.

"I thrived off of [May's] dunk, and I came into the game with that same energy," the younger Marble said. "I got comfortable in the second half. I have to find a way to get going in the first half, though. I come out — I don't know — slow, offensively."

Marble and the rest of the Hawkeyes will need to get off to a faster start this weekend. Iowa will play Xavier in the first round of the Paradise Jam on Friday in the Virgin Islands, and the Musketeers will jump on the Hawkeyes if they repeat Tuesday's 29-point first-half performance.

The Black and Gold could get shooting guard Matt Gatens back for the game, though — the junior has been out since late October with a torn tendon in his left hand — and McCaffery said he expects to see improvement from the rest of his lineup after the experience of playing a sloppy game.

"I think at some level, you're going to get better playing ball games," the coach said. "What I'm trying to do right now is bring our basketball team along so we can maximize the talent that we have and play to the best of our ability."


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