IOWA CITY Three seasons ago Fran McCaffery took his lumps as a first-year Iowa coach, enduring the second-most single-season losses in school history.
Last year McCaffery brought hope with the school's first winning record in five seasons. Now, after a 90-46 win against South Carolina State Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, McCaffery has evened his Iowa record at 39-39.
Less than halfway into his third season, McCaffery now has one more victory in 18 fewer games that predecessor Todd Lickliter managed over three complete seasons. Last night's win gave the Hawkeyes a 10-2 record so far, the program's best record through 12 games since 2004-05.
Iowa dominated the game from start to finish. By halftime Iowa junior Devyn Marble outscored South Carolina State 21-20. From the middle of the first half through the middle of the second, Iowa blasted through on a 45-9 run.
Marble connected on 8 of 13 shots, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range to score 27 points. He played only 22 minutes, sitting out all but four in the second half. He now has 57 points in his last two games.
Backup center Gabe Olaseni produced the game's highlight reel play, blocking a breakaway dunk attempt by the Bulldogs' Phillip Henry with less than five minutes remaining. Olaseni grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and scored six points.
Iowa paid South Carolina State $90,000 for the game, one of five Iowa non-conference opponents to receive that number. Iowa's non-conference home slate this year cost the school $710,000 in guarantees, according to contracts supplied by the University of Iowa to The Gazette via state open-records law.
Iowa plays one more non-conference game this Saturday against Coppin State before opening Big Ten play against Indiana on Dec. 31.