(Photo Credit Atlantis Resort)
Iowa beat Xavier 77-74 in Overtime in the Bahamas on Thursday night and did so playing at about a ‘C’ level.
The following tweet comes from an ESPN contributor and is a sentiment a lot of us probably shared following Iowa’s opener in the Battle 4 Atlantis:
Big comeback for Iowa. Last season's Iowa squad would have lost by double digits. Much tougher mentally this season.
— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) November 29, 2013
Iowa trailed by 15 points with just over 15 minutes left in the game and was also down 55-42 with 10:13 to play. That’s when Iowa went on a 12-0 run over the next 02:04, eight of those points coming from Devyn Marble including two 3-point baskets.
Marble was huge for Iowa, scoring 30 points in 32 minutes, but his time was cut short because of severe cramping in his lower legs. He sat out the final few minutes of regulation and the entire overtime, a critical stretch of the game.
That’s when the rest of the team picked him up, including Gabe Olaseni and Mike Gesell. Olaseni was active and got to the free throw line, hitting eight of his nine attempts on the night including five in the last three minutes. Iowa didn’t lead in this game until 4:06 remained in overtime.
After Marble went out of the game, Olaseni scored a team best seven points in the final seven minutes of action while Gesell had four points.
The officiating in this game was ‘interesting’. The first 20 minutes looked a lot like last year, with all sorts of contact being allowed. Fran McCaffery received a technical foul after the first half had ended after pleading his case with the officials. Then in the second half, things went the other direction as the officials were calling everything and were generally poor for both teams. Two players fouled out for both squads.
As I mentioned to start, Iowa probably played at a ‘C’ level; they were very poor in the first half, getting outrebounded on the offensive glass by three boards and generally being out-hustled to every loose ball. The second half was better, but it was really the second half of the second half where Iowa began to play to its potential and much of that was without its best player.
That’s a big deal for this club and why the embedded tweet above resonates even more; Iowa probably would have lost this game last year. Xavier even had three separate three-point attempts in the last 20 seconds of overtime to tie it, but none of them found the mark. After last season, I felt like each one of those shots was going to go down. This year, they didn’t.
Some might wonder if Iowa was sleepwalking through the first half because they hadn’t played any good teams yet this season. There may be something to that and I also think there may be something to this game turning out to be pretty important to this team in the long run. They just received a slap of reality and a true start to this season. They won without the services of their best player down the stretch and Jarrod Uthoff scoring zero points and Adam Woodbury getting just two. They also won after being down 15 points in the second half and shooting just 30.3% from the floor for the second half as well as shooting less than 22 percent from three in th second half. It was an unlikely comeback, to be sure…perhaps in the realm of Iowa’s comeback win against Michigan on the football field last week.
It was a great team win but the Hawkeyes cant dwell and get comfortable; they will play UTEP tomorrow night at 6PM Iowa time (televised on NBC Sports Network) and if they win that one it will likely meet Kansas on Saturday night. However, this team will take it one game at a time…Thursday night’s battle will be the perfect reminder.
*Iowa rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit and ultimately win 77-74 in overtime. The Hawkeyes did not lead in the game until 4:06 left in overtime
*This was the second-ever overtime game in Battle 4 Atlantis history (Florida State-Connecticut in 2011)
*Tonight marked Iowa’s first overtime win since March 7, 2009 (vs. Penn State)
*Iowa improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2003-04 season
*Roy Devyn Marble poured in a game-high 30 points, one shy of his career-best of 31 set against Oregon in March 2012. The 30 points are the second-most in Battle 4 Atlantis history (41 Andre Hollins of Minnesota in 2012). Marble has scored 30+ points three times in his career (Oregon, 31; Northern Iowa, 30)
*Gabriel Olaseni had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds – his first career double-double
McCaffery & Marble Audio