Marble carries Hawkeye basketball to first-ever NIT Final Four appearance

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa had been this far in the NIT only twice before in program history, losing both games in heartbreaking fashion in the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

But this year was different from the others.

For starters, the Hawkeyes played this season’s third-round contest on the road in the heart of ACC country.

But second, and most importantly, junior guard Devyn Marble leads this year’s team. And he’s really good.

So good that because of him, the 2013 Iowa men’s basketball team is now boldly going where no other Black and Gold squad has gone before:

The NIT Final Four in New York.

Marble’s 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists carried Iowa past Virginia with a 75-64 victory in the NIT Quarterfinals at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday night.

The Hawkeyes (24-12) advance to play Maryland in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden April 1.

“We’ve come so close so many different times to getting that signature road win, so to go on the road and beat a team with that kind of winning streak is a great statement,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery told the Hawkeye radio network after the game.

Adam Woodbury added 10 points and 8 rebounds, and junior guard Zach McCabe had 10 points off the bench for the Black and Gold. Virginia freshman guard Justin Anderson posted 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists for the Cavaliers (23-12), who saw their 19-game home winning streak snapped with the loss.

The Hawks came out hitting everything they offered up, finishing 26-of-53 (49 percent) as a team from the floor and 8-of-17 (47 percent) from long range. Marble shot 8-of-16 from the field and scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, as the Hawkeyes pulled away from what was a tight contest for most of the night.

Trailing by 3 at halftime, the Cavaliers scored the first 4 points of the second period to snatch the lead three minutes in. The teams traded leads five times over the next four and a half minutes before Virginia regained a 41-39 advantage with 13:33 remaining.

They did not lead again.

Marble responded 30 seconds later with his only made 3-pointer of the night to jolt Iowa back ahead by 1. The Hawkeyes added 5-consecutive points to rattle off a game-changing 8-0 run — capped by sophomore guard Josh Oglesby’s 3-pointer with 9:53 left to give the Black and Gold a 47-41 cushion.

“The most critical juncture of the game was when they were up 2 early in the second half, and there was a little skirmish in front of our bench; it got a little heated,” McCaffery said. “You have to be able to come out after that skirmish and execute, and our offensive execution tonight was flawless.”

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett agreed with McCaffery’s assessment of the Iowa offense, and noting that the road team simply drilled his Cavaliers into the ground.

“Iowa is difficult to play against; they’re very physical, and they defend you,” Bennett told the Hawkeye radio network. “They run their cuts hard; there are a lot of screens, and they just keep going at it. They got hot and wore us down.”

Woodbury thought it said a lot about the character of his team to be able to walk into such a hostile environment and snap a long winning streak such as the one Virginia carried into the contest.

“This wasn’t the first loud crowd we’ve seen this year, so we stayed level headed and knew they were going to make a run and we withstood it,” Woodbury told the Hawkeye radio network. “We threw a couple more punches at them and got out of here with the victory.”

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