Veterans carry Hawkeye basketball over Gophers

BY TOM CLOS | FEBRUARY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Trailing 21-6 in a game they had to win to keep their NCAA Tournament dreams alive, the Hawkeyes called upon an old trio to bring them back.

Senior guard Eric May, junior guard Devyn Marble, and sophomore forward Aaron White combined to score 40 points in Iowa’s 72-51 victory over Minnesota on Sunday. The three players helped the Black and Gold outscore the Gophers 67-30 over the last 33 minutes.

“Early, we were struggling at the foul line and to get guys open looks,” Marble said. “In the second half, everybody settled down, and we really got into a rhythm and a flow. We just rolled with that on the way up.”

Marble notched 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists with 10 of his points coming during the Hawkeyes’ decisive 29-8 run in the last half of the first period that gave them the lead for good.

The junior’s gutty performance was an exclamation point on a late-season resurgence that has seen the upperclassman post double-digit point totals in three-consecutive contests after scoring 2 points total in losses at Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“I didn’t really call it a slump, it was just a rough stretch, and you’re going to have those,” Marble said. “But I knew my team needed more out of me, and I had to forget about whatever was bothering me, and I’ve done that the past three games now.”

White, who had an identical line to Marble’s with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists, was also essential in Iowa’s game-changing rally, pouring in 9 points down the stretch in the first half.

The Strongsville, Ohio, native was a dominant force down low throughout the day — attempting a team-high 9 free throws, making 7.

“You know [Aaron] is going to attack occasionally and dunk the ball. He’s going to shoot a bit and get some poke-aways, but he was making a clear effort to drive the ball to the basket,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He could get to the free-throw line, stop the clock, and allow us to press, and that affects the game dramatically.”

As the team’s lone senior, May has been feeling pressure to finally reach the NCAA Tournament as his college career winds down. His determination showed — the guard just missed a double-double, posting 10 points, 7 rebounds, and an assist coming off the bench.

“I’m playing my most consistent basketball right now,” May said. “It’s allowed me to be solid, do the little things and affect the game by letting it come to me.”

Marble said his teammate’s contributions usually stay under the radar because of his position in the rotation and noted that May has been one of the team’s unsung heroes throughout what still could be a special season.

“[Eric] gave us excellent minutes. He defended well, got a couple steals, had an and-one dunk, and hit a couple of clutch shots down the stretch,” Marble said. “He’s been doing it pretty much all year, yet it goes unnoticed a lot of times. He’s been a key factor for the team this year.”

And so, during a season in which new faces have changed the dynamic of the Iowa men’s basketball team, a couple of vintage visages were on display in perhaps the Hawkeyes’ biggest win to date.

“We’re playing well, we’re playing better, and we’ve got a lot of individuals contributing to what we’re doing,” McCaffery said. We've got so many different players contributing, everybody's ready to go. Nobody knows who is going to get it done tonight, and it's a beautiful thing.”

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