MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. Iowa junior guard Devyn Marble struggled with a sprained ankle and sprained toe early in Big Ten play. But neither injury provided a reason for why he was held scoreless and played just 17 minutes in a 62-59 loss at Minnesota on Sunday.
"There's nothing wrong with him," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
"I'm fine," Marble said. "It's just tough to get into a rhythm. But that's no excuse."
Marble led the Hawkeyes in scoring at 14.1 points a game entering Sunday's game. He missed both shot attempts Sunday, had three turnovers and only two assists. He played 10 minutes in the first half and five early in the second before sitting on the bench for 11 minutes, 25 seconds. Then he got one more chance at redemption.
With 2:10 to go and with Iowa holding a four-point lead, McCaffery inserted Marble into the lineup. Two possessions later, he passed toward fellow guard Mike Gesell, but the ball sailed out of bounds with 36.6 seconds left. Marble was taken back out, and the Gophers hit a vital 3-pointer on the next possession.
"It just slipped on me," Marble said. "It was my fault. It's frustrating, but I've got to find a way to make it work. That's all there is to it."
McCaffery said he benched Marble for most of the second half "because he wasn't playing well." Marble said it didn't bother him because "I want to win so that's what's working."
Marble clearly is struggling in Big Ten play, hitting just 20 of 71 shots. Only once in league play has Marble made at least 50 percent from the field.
"I feel bad for him," McCaffery said. "He's a great kid, and I love him. He's a terrific player; he's just not playing well. Clearly he's not playing with any confidence. We have consistently challenged him and tried to work with him. He was doing OK and then when he got hurt, he sat for a bit and he wasn't the same when he came back. He just seemed to be out of sync.
"His shot isn't the same. He's not going by people like he normally does. He's not affecting the game the way he typically can."
So why did McCaffery insert Marble back into the game in a clutch situation against Minnesota?
"He's a long-armed athletic kid that can make plays at both ends of the floor," McCaffery said. "That's what we need him to do. That's why I went back to him. I thought he could do that."