Hawkeyes win first round of Battle for Atlantis

BY BEN ROSS | NOVEMBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa could have taken a shot-clock violation every possession in the second half and still would have defeated Abilene-Christian University 46-41.

But the Hawkeyes continued to dominate the Wildcats into the final frame of its opening matchup of the Battle for Atlantis tournament, winning its fourth game of the season, 103-41.

The team’s play was highlighted by senior Devyn Marble, who ended the game with 27 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 20 minutes of play. Marble had 22 points in the first half alone. With 16 minutes left in the game, Marble had more points than Abilene. The Pontiac, Mich., native had 27, and the Wildcats had scored just 24 a collective unit.

Marble’s success didn’t surprise him.

“I felt like it was supposed to happen,” he said about his play against the Wildcats. “I work on my shot every day; I shoot well in practice, it was only a matter of time. I just need to get into a rhythm before we head to the Bahamas and we play against top-tier competition. I put the work in, so I’m not super-crazy about the results. I knew it was going to start to happen. I have to be consistent, get into a rhythm early, get easy buckets early. I got an easy lay-up which I think opened up the size of the basket for me.”

Marble started the season playing the No. 1 point guard spot, but he moved to the No. 2 shooting guard recently. Mike Gesell has moved from the 2 to the 1, and the change seems to have helped. Iowa has scored more than 100 points in its last two games, despite everyone on its bench getting minutes in the games.

Marble’s play is a product of what head coach Fran McCaffery envisioned in his moving Marble and Gesell around.

“He’s [Marble] been terrific. I think he’s really mixing up his game, both with 3s and drives and pull-ups and post-ups,” McCaffery said. “The reason we moved him back to the 2 spot is to get him all over the floor with the ball. I think that’s where he’s at his best.”

Marble scored 15 of Iowa’s first 19 points through game’s first eight minutes, including back-to-back 3s early on. He finished 3-of-6 beyond 3-point range, helping Iowa hit its best clip from long-range of the season at 42.9 percent. Iowa finished 9-of-21 in its 3-point shots.

In addition to Marble, true freshman Peter Jok had his best game from long range, going 3-of-5 from 3-point land. McCaffery has touted Jok as one of the best shooter’s he’s been around, and after a few shaky games, the rookie from Des Moines helped back up his coach’s words. Jok said that getting able to play a lot of minutes in these early games has helped his play.

“It’s really valuable; it builds my confidence up,” he said. “I think it’s good for us.”

Darius Stokes didn’t play in the game because of an injury. Senior forward Zach McCabe fell under the opposing hoop midway through the second half and landed on his tooth, forcing it into his gums. He didn’t go back into the game and will likely get an X-ray this week as a precautionary measure, but his coach was confident that he won’t miss any time.

“He’ll be fine. It’s something with his tooth,” McCaffery said. “You can’t hurt him. He’s like a piece of steel.”

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