Iowa's season isn't over just yet. Despite a rocky start, Iowa ended up cruising to a 68-52 win over Indiana State in the first round of the 2013 NIT tonight. Indiana State jumped out to early leads of 8-3 and 26-18, behind some sharp three-point shooting (the Sycamores made three of their first four threes) and 8 points from Justin Gant. It was right about then that Indiana State's fortunes took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Devonte Brown made a lay-up with 4:14 left in the first half to put Indiana State up 28-23. Iowa ended the half on an 8-2 run to take a 31-30 halftime lead; the only ISU points came via two Gant free throws. With 10:34 remaining in the second half, Josh Oglesby hit a three-pointer to put Iowa up 50-34, their biggest lead of the game. Over almost ten minutes of game action, the Sycamores made a whopping two buckets (both by Gant, incidentally). The only reason the lead was only 16 points was because Iowa's offense wasn't exactly razor-sharp itself -- Iowa shot just 7/18 from the field over that same span, a stretch best typified by a surreal sequence where Marble and Basabe combined to somehow miss three point-blank lay-ups in rapid-fire succession.*
* Actually, if you've watched this team all season, it really isn't that surprising, unfortunately. Sigh.
For the game, Iowa shot 22/57 (38.6%), including 6/19 (31.6%) from deep. That wasn't much better than Indiana State's own rough shooting: 19/50 (38%), 4/17 (23.5%) from long range. Iowa also had 13 turnovers, just three fewer than the Sycamores. So what made the difference? Well, Iowa owned the boards -- they had a 39-25 rebounding edge, including a 15-4 edge on the offensive glass. And even though their free throw shooting was a bit worse than normal (69.2%), they still attempted 26 free throws and made 18, compared to Indiana State's 10 made free throws on 11 attempts.
Iowa was led by Roy Devyn Marble, who put together perhaps his finest all-around game of the season: 24 points (on 7/15 shooting), 5 rebounds, a team-high 6 assists, and 4 steals against just one turnover. Aaron White added 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Melsahn Basabe chipped in 9 points and 8
assists* rebounds. Zach McCabe added 8 points and 3 rebounds off the bench and Gabe Olaseni had a very active 12 minutes: 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 missed free throws, and 3 fouls. Iowa also had not one, not two, but three trillionaires tonight: Christopher Rickert, Kyle Denning, and Darius Stokes (although if sideline cheerleading counted as a stat, Stokes would never ever be eligible for trillionaire status; that guy can celebrate).
* LOL at Mel having 8 assists in a game. That was a really dumb typo on my part.
It wasn't all good news for Iowa, though: Anthony Clemmons had 3 turnovers and 3 fouls in 5 ineffective minutes and Mike Gesell (2 points on 1/5 shooting) looked hampered by his recent foot injury. (In his post-game comments, Fran indicated that he was "very concerned" about Gesell's injury. Welp!) What's that mean? Well, Iowa is likely going to go as far in the NIT as RDM can carry them. And if he plays more games like tonight, that might be pretty far indeed.
But the highlight of the game? Probably Fran McCaffery giving the referees, the fans, and both teams an impromptu lesson on how to count to six. One-two-three-four-um..... shit! Help me out, Fran!
Whew! Thanks, Coach!
By virtue of the win -- and thanks to Stony Brook's 71-58 in over UMass -- Iowa will get to host another home game in the NIT. Thanks, Sea Wolves! Iowa will host Stony Brook on Friday night at 8:30 pm CT in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, IA. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
Meanwhile, Kirk Ferentz has a message for all the haters:
Stick to the foam finger, Kirk twitter.com/hasselESPN/sta…— Chris Hassel (@hasselESPN) March 21, 2013