Iowa Basketball Cruises Against Abilene Christian
By Scott Dochterman and John Campbell, Reporters
IOWA CITY In its best performance so far this season, Iowa put on a figurative basketball clinic Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (4-0) scored more than 100 points for the second straight game in a 103-41 massacre over Abilene Christian (0-4). With the game well in hand, Coach Fran McCaffery withheld leading scorers Devyn Marble and Aaron White after the first media timeout of the second half. It was a performance where Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery had to re-evaluate his approach to avoid embarrassing his overmatched opponent.
"I didn't really think about that until we were up over 30 at the 16-minute mark," McCaffery said. "So we had 16 minutes to go and I'm going to get some of my guys out, I'm going to put the next group in. Well, they've got to get something out of it, so they've got to keep playing hard."
McCaffery avoided pressing on defense and told his players not to throw alley-oop passes. But his bench players also needed work, so he wasn't about to run a stalling offense until much later in the game.
"It's kind of like, let's just keep playing hard man-to-man defense, keep running the fast break, keep moving the ball," he said. "Don't stop playing that way. We're not going to sit here and dribble out 16 minutes. We might dribble out three minutes and let it go, but not 16."
Of course his players had mixed feelings about leaving the court. It's the second consecutive game White and Marble played barely after halftime.
"I understand why coach does it," White said. "I asked him after the timeout if I could go back in and he said no. We're up so much and you don't want to run it up any more. I know where he's coming from. I'm looking forward to the games where I get to play a little bit more."
"That's up to Coach McCaffery," Marble said. "I would love to still be out there until the buzzer ends. But you've got to find ways to not embarrass your opponent. I think he does a good job of that. His players are all going to be upset if they don't play as much as we'd like to. I think that's our competitive nature. We leave that aspect to Coach McCaffery. I think he does a good job of that."
Marble in particular was outstanding on Sunday despite playing only 20 minutes. He scored Iowa's first eight points and 15 of the team's first 17. He finished with 27 points, just four from equaling his career high set two years ago in the NIT at Oregon. Marble moved up from 26th in career scoring to 19th and now has 1,194 career points.
But before Sunday, Marble was in a bit of a shooting slump. He hit just 8-of-26 overall and 2-of-12 from 3-point range. Against Abilene Christian, Marble shook off the rust and knocked down 9-of-13 and half of his six 3-point attempts.
"I felt like it was supposed to happen," Marble said. "I come out and work on my shot every day. I shoot well in practice. It was a matter of time.
"I just need to start getting in a rhythm before we head to the Bahamas and we're playing against top-tier competition. I put the work in, so I'm not super crazy about the results. I knew they were going to start happening. I just need to be consistent and I was trying to get into a rhythm early, get easy buckets early."
Moving to off-guard allowed him to be more free offensively and look for his shot.
"He was really mixing up his game, both with 3s and drives and pull-ups and post-ups," McCaffery said, "and that's the reason we moved him back to the two-spot is to get him all over the floor with the ball. I think that's where he's at his best.
White had nine points. Peter Jok finished with 15 points. Gabe Olaseni and Zach McCabe each scored 10.
The Hawkeyes play host to Penn on Friday.
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