The Box Score: Inside Iowa basketball postseason edition

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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When the Iowa men’s basketball team was left out of the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, it was clear they had a distinct message they wanted to send to the tournament committee throughout a NIT run: Panel members made a mistake not picking the Hawkeyes for the Big Dance.

So far, the Hawkeyes have delivered, routing Indiana State, 68-52, in the first round on March 20 and overpowering Stony Brook, 75-63, in round two on March 22. Now, Iowa will take its act on the road to the heart of the ACC for a date with Virginia Wednesday. With a win, the Hawkeyes can go where no Black and Gold squad has gone before: the NIT semifinals.

G Devyn Marble Avg. Points Per Game in NIT — 26.0

The Hawkeyes’ best player has been just that through the team’s pair of NIT games. Marble torched Indiana State for 24 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in the Black and Gold’s opening triumph and followed that up with a 28-point, 5-assist, and 2-rebound night in leading Iowa over Stony Brook two days later.

The junior is shooting 16-of-33 (48.4 percent) from the field as well as 4-of-11 from 3-point range in the postseason, and he has missed just three in his 21 attempts from the free-throw line.

The Hawkeyes have needed Marble to be special throughout this tournament, and the Southfield, Mich., native hasn’t disappointed them. He’ll need to continue his torrid pace if Iowa is to get out of Virginia with a ticket to New York.

Team FG Percentage Through Two NIT Games — 42.8 percent

While the Hawkeyes’ tenacious defense helped keep the Sycamores and Seawolves under wraps in the first two rounds, the Black and Gold’s offense has struggled to keep up.

Outside of Marble’s nearly 50 percent and junior forward Melsahn Basabe’s 57 percent shooting clips, the rest of the squad is shooting just 40 percent (32-of-79) from the field.

Sophomore forward Aaron White has struggled from the field, making just 38 percent of his shots, and freshman guard Mike Gesell has been ineffective offensively to the tune of 27 percent shooting.

Iowa has searched for just one more shooter to supplement its offense all year long, and the search has continued through the postseason.

Iowa’s 3-Pointers Made Through Two NIT Games — 14

The Hawkeyes were the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten in the regular season, but so far in the NIT, the Black and Gold have hit from deep.

The success rate at which the team makes its 3-pointers won’t be pretty, thanks to the team’s excessive 38 attempts from downtown in two games, but finally the Hawkeyes are hitting a good portion of them —14 to be exact.

Junior Zach McCabe’s long-range stroke has finally come along in the NIT — the backup forward has hit four of his eight attempts from 3-point land. McCabe, along with five other Hawkeyes, showered Stony Brook with bombs from deep, hitting 8-of-19 in shooting more than 42 percent and helping Iowa hold off the Seawolves to advance to the NIT quarterfinal.

Iowa’s All-Time Record in NIT Quarterfinal — 0-2

The Hawkeyes have reached the National Invitational Tournament’s round of eight only twice in their history and both times, the Black and Gold would go no further.

In 1995, Iowa got by DePaul and Ohio before meeting Penn State in the NIT quarterfinal in Iowa City. The game was tied in the waning moments before Nittany Lions’ freshman guard Pete Lisicky hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to knock the Hawkeyes out of the postseason, 67-64.

Eight years later, Iowa once again squandered a chance to reach New York after as Georgia Tech’s B.J. Elder hit a floater from the lane in the dying seconds to send the Hawkeyes packing with a 79-78 loss in Carver-Hawkeye in the 2003 tournament.

If history is any indication, the Hawkeyes may be in for some heartbreak Wednesday night, but one difference separates the ’95 and ’03 squads from the ’13 edition; this year’s team will play its NIT quarterfinal on the road.

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