Role players step up for Hawkeye men's basketball in win over Purdue


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Devyn Marble stood at the line with just under 30 seconds remaining and calmly sunk a pair of free throws to give the Hawkeyes an 11-point lead over Purdue. Moments later, after the Boilermakers hit a 3-pointer and quickly fouled on the in-bounds pass, Aaron White pushed the lead back to double digits with two free throws of his own.

It was easy to watch Iowa’s 58-48 victory over Purdue and think Marble and White — both of whom scored a game-high 18 points — were a two-man act. During a field-goal drought that lasted from the 12:42 mark of the first half until Marble hit a 3-pointer 59 seconds into the second half, the duo combined to hit 8 free throws to keep the Boilermakers at arm’s length.

But in the absence of freshman point guard Mike Gesell, who missed the game with a foot injury, it was the supporting actors who made the difference.

“Anytime you lose a guy of [Gesell’s] caliber, everybody has got to step up,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It can’t be one person … We’re not a team that is going to play seven guys and one guy goes down, and [ask] now what do we do.”

Iowa won both the rebounding and turnover battles — something Purdue is accustomed to doing — and it was part of a balanced effort. White led all players with 9 boards, but four other Hawkeyes posted 4 or more. The team swiped 10 steals, half of which came from bench players.

While White and Marble carried the bulk of the offensive load — no other Iowa player scored more than 5 points — junior forward Melsahn Basabe said it was more a matter of quality, not quantity.

“Everybody — they didn’t hit a lot of shots, but guys hit shots at key moments when we needed to separate a little,” Basabe said.

Some of those shots came early. Anthony Clemmons had struggled the past few weeks, but he wasted little time in making a big play when he subbed in with 13:32 remaining in the first half. He quickly jumped a passing lane and threw down a breakaway dunk just 12 seconds after entering the lineup.

And some of those shots came late. Junior Zach McCabe missed his first 3-pointer of the night and tossed an air ball on his second attempt, but he didn’t hesitate when he received a pass on the left win near the midway point of the second half. He rose up and nailed a 3 to put the Hawkeyes up by 10 points.

But arguably no shot was bigger than the one taken by Josh Oglesby, who started in Gesell’s place, then began the game 0-for-4 from the field. He received Marble’s pass in the left corner and fired a wide-open shot that found the bottom of the net to push the lead to 9 points with 1:43 left.

Oglesby has struggled with his shot this season, but Marble said he never doubted the sophomore would hit the shot when it mattered most.

“I knew if he got an open look, he was going to make it,” Marble said. “It’s making sure he knows that. I have faith in Josh; I’m going to keep giving him the ball. I’ve just got to keep him mentally focused on continuing to shoot and not putting too much pressure on himself. Just go out and make shots.”

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