Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Eric May saw dozens of black T-shirts with his name and number scattered throughout Carver-Hawkeye Arena commemorating Senior Day.
The partisan crowd stood and gave Devyn Marble a standing ovation on his first bucket, three points forever joining himself and Roy Marble as the only father-son duo in Big Ten history to surpass 1,000 in their careers.
When the clock expired on Iowa's 74-60 win Saturday, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery met Nebraska counterpart Tim Miles at midcourt as he would any other competitor. One would have no idea that McCaffery won his 300th game as a college coach.
The milestones have merit, but not today. Not this week. The only milestone that matters is 20, but that's worth only a picture, not a 1,000 words.
Twenty wins for a program that lost 20 games two years ago. Twenty wins have the Hawkeyes in striking distance of something bigger and better than a win on senior day, a field goal Marble has sank 339 times or McCaffery's 49th win at Iowa.
"It is a good accomplishment. That's really all I have to say about it," Marble said. "You've just seen the gradual growth of this team over the past three years and how good of a job coach McCaffery has done with us."
With the win, Iowa (20-11, 9-9 Big Ten) secured the sixth seed at next week's Big Ten Tournament and will face 11th-seeded Northwestern at 8 p.m. Thursday at Chicago's United Center. An upper-division finish, 20 wins and a victory on May's final regular-season Carver appearance is something that all celebrate and will remember someday.
But not today. It's about a team snapshot and moving forward.
"It's a big step for us," said Iowa's Aaron White, who scored a team-high 19 points. "You look at the past couple of years and they've been through their struggles. We kind of turned it around last year and made the NIT.
"Now it's all about that next step and getting quality wins and making the NCAA tournament."
Iowa started strong against Nebraska, taking a 12-3 lead in the first five minutes. Nebraska's counterattack stunned Iowa early in the second half, cutting a 10-point deficit to 46-44 with 14:19 left.
Iowa rallied with a 17-0 run, highlighted with a dunk from Gabe Olaseni, who later dished two crisp low-post assists. Adam Woodbury scored twice in the run and finished with 12 points on 6-of-6 from the field.
Nebraska scored eight straight points to trim its deficit to 66-52 with 4:55 left. Then White stepped up for Iowa, scoring the Hawkeyes' final eight points to put the Cornhuskers away.
It was a special day for May, who finished his home career -- barring an NIT appearance -- with two points, six rebounds and six assists. He greeted his parents at midcourt with hugs and the crowd delivered a rousing cheer, but the ceremony wasn't his primary concern. Just the victory.
"Above senior day, we needed to get a win here," May said. "That might have been holding more weight on my mind that senior day, it was holding more weight. You just try to go out there and play loose, and we did a good job of that."
Now it's on to Chicago, where the Hawkeyes can cement an NCAA appearance with a deep run. For Melsahn Basabe, the journey isn't complete. It's just beginning
"I don't feel like something's missing," said Basabe, who scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. "I just feel like we have a level, more levels that we can reach as a team and we have great potential in us. So I think that's what we need to keep pushing towards. We're a really good team. Now it's postseason time. It's the best time of the year."