After shaky start, Iowa moves to 2-0 with comeback win against Nebraska-Omaha


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Iowa players and coaches will try to forget their performance against Nebraska-Omaha as quickly as possible. The Hawkeyes’ play was sloppy, and the team’s 18 turnovers are more than it had in last year’s NIT semifinal and championship games combined.

What’s surprising about the Hawkeyes’ 83-75 victory, though, is that head coach Fran McCaffery thought the win was exemplary of why this team and season may be something special.

“They were giving us trouble,” McCaffery said. “But it’s all part of the journey. The key is, like I said after the Gardner-Webb game two years ago, three years ago, we lose this game. We lost to Campbell. We lost to South Dakota State. I’m not saying we’re going to win every game like this, but we did what we had to do to win this game.”

Junior forward Aaron White all but carried the Hawkeyes to victory Sunday. The Strongsville, Ohio native, amassed 20 points and 15 rebounds in 33 minutes. White also added 2 assists and a key steal, something McCaffery could see coming.

“To me, the most impressive thing is his [White’s] understanding of what was needed in a very difficult game,” McCaffery said. “Somebody had to step up and play the way he played. He had a couple turnovers, but you just felt like he was going to get a rebound, get a basket, hit a 3, block a shot, do something that we needed him to do.”

After being down 7 points at halftime, the Hawkeyes adjusted and eventually outscored Nebraska-Omaha by 15 points in the second half.

Iowa’s defense intensely pressured the opposing ball handler throughout Sunday’s game, but the team didn’t see the effects of that effort until the second half. Before the break, it seemed as if Iowa’s traps and double teams all led to open looks for Nebraska-Omaha.

But in the second half, Iowa’s ball pressure at times forced Nebraska-Omaha’s players to panic, which led to more low-percentage shots and opportunities for the Mavericks.

“Limiting them offensively, that’s not something we did in the first half,” senior forward Zach McCabe said. “Coach came in and told us we needed to change that. Guys throughout the lineup were a lot better [in the second half] not letting them get easy drives to the basket.”

Devyn Marble, Iowa’s most talented player on the offensive end, didn’t have his best night shooting and finished just 2-of-13 from the field. The senior flashed some serious awareness, though, driving to the basket with regularity after realizing his shot wasn’t on.

The Southfield, Mich., native finished with 15 points despite shooting so terribly from the field.

Iowa will now turn its attention to Maryland-Eastern Shore, another opponent that will be overmatched by the Hawkeyes’ length and depth.

It’s easy to say Iowa will no longer overlook inferior teams after the scare Nebraska-Omaha gave the team Sunday. But its second half dominance is just the latest example of the potential and promise of this year’s Hawkeye squad.

On a day that at times looked disastrous for the Black and Gold, the team stayed composed and dominated when it needed to.

“These kinds of teams are hard to play against, even though you are supposed to win,” Marble said. “They come out with nothing to lose … They can beat teams on any given night.

“And that comes with learning each game and each year. We know these games mean a lot even though it’s not a significant win, it could be a significant loss. And we know that.”

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