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Hawkeye hoops hurdle Hoosiers

BY SETH ROBERTS | JANUARY 24, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team won for the first time in 2011, throttling Indiana, 91-77, on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The 14-point victory ended a six-game skid and was the Hawkeyes’ 700th Big Ten victory since joining the conference in 1900.

Iowa (8-11, 1-6) shot 57.7 percent from the field, including 40 percent from beyond the arc. Indiana (10-10, 1-6) had more difficulty finding the basket, shooting just 37.1 percent despite pulling down 17 offensive rebounds.

Four Hawkeyes finished in double-digits. Melsahn Basabe scored 20 points, Matt Gatens used the free-throw line heavily on his way to sinking 19 points, Roy Devyn Marble recorded 18 points, and Eric May added 11.

Iowa’s balanced attack appeared to fluster the Hoosiers, and Indiana head coach Tom Crean said he wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive effort.

“We weren’t good defensively at all,” he said. “Our transition defense was poor … our big guys were nonexistent in transition defense today. We just weren’t as good [as Iowa], and it started from there. We gave up too much middle drive, and we weren’t as physical as we needed to be.”

The Hawkeyes took full advantage, running the floor well and scoring in the paint seemingly at will.

Iowa finished with a 14-point advantage in fast-break points, four of which came from thunderous back-to-back dunks by May early in the second half.

May’s slams put Indiana in a 16-point hole, but more importantly, they helped restore the struggling sophomore’s confidence. The Dubuque native suffered a groin injury and didn’t play against Ohio State on Jan. 4. He was scoreless in two of his past three contests, and his first dunk ended a streak in which he went without a field goal for almost 50 game minutes.

“His struggles of late were a direct reflection of his injury,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He got a little rusty, and you know, I just keep thinking: He’s too good [to have bad games].”

While May’s dunks brought the crowd of 11,860 to its feet, no Iowa player had a better game than Marble. The freshman reserve came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points in 20 minutes. He did most of his scoring in the lane and from mid-range jumpers and shot 8-of-13 with a free throw.

“The holes just kept opening — it was like the seas were parting,” he said. “[Every time] I saw a hole, I took it. The shots were falling, I felt good, the team felt good, and things were happening.”

Crean agreed with Marble, and he blasted his team for letting the lanky guard from Southfield, Mich., penetrate with ease.

“We gave him a lot of opportunities,” Crean said. “He did a good job. We gave him too much opportunity to get to his right hand and drive [the lane], and he capitalized on it.”

Iowa’s win was a milestone for the program, but McCaffery said there are more important lessons to take from the victory. The Hawkeyes raced out to a lead and, unlike most recent games, were able to stay in front. Even Hoosier forward Christian Watford’s game-high 30 points weren’t enough to topple the Black and Gold.

“[We’re] just going to keep on plugging,” McCaffery said. “It’s more important for [the players]. They’ve worked way too hard to continue to struggle… to play from the lead, from out in front, was something we haven’t had a lot of experience with this year, so that was good to see. We earned it.”

The Hawkeyes next will travel to Penn State on Wednesday.


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