NEW YORK, NY Neither Iowa's Devyn Marble nor Baylor's Pierre Jackson garnered first-team all-conference honors from league coaches during the regular season. But both point guards have played like all-stars in the postseason.
Marble, a junior, has put up 24.3 points, 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals a game in the NIT. Jackson, a senior, averages 20.2 points and a whopping 11.2 assists during his NIT run. All eyes will be on that match-up tonight for the NIT championship.
"I have not seen enough of Iowa to know if Marble means as much as Pierre does for us," Baylor Coach Scott Drew said. "I know Pierre is the straw that stirs our drink. From the one game I've seen of Iowa so far, I would concur with you (that they are the key scorers). After I watch four or five more games, I can maybe concur with you on that."
They play the same position, but they're different types of players. Jackson stands 5-foot-11 and relies on quickness and acceleration to find openings and scoring lanes. At 6-7, Marble provides a match-up disadvantage.
While Jackson, who led the Big 12 with 19.9 points and 7.0 assists a game this year, is talented, he's not unique in his skill set. Marble said Jackson's style of play is a bit like Michigan's Trey Burke for his scoring ability and Indiana's Yogi Ferrell for his quickness.
"I don't know if he's going to be guarding me; they'll probably put (A.J.) Walton on me," Marble said. "But you'll see me on him a lot of the time and it will be a challenge. He's quick, fast, small, can shoot, gets his teammates involved. It's going to be a team effort."
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Marble, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons will draw Jackson in man-to-man sets. Jackson will challenge each of Iowa's defenders.
"He can put points up in a hurry, whether he's scoring or dishing on assists," Gesell said.
GESELL READY TO PLAY
Gesell remains hampered by a stress reaction in his right foot and played 11 minutes against Maryland, including four in the second half. But the freshman said he'll be ready to go Thursday against Baylor.
"I didn't tweak my foot or anything," Gesell said. "It was actually feeling decent last night so that's a positive thing and hopefully it continues to hold up."
Gesell started 30 games this year but missed four because of the injury. He's played sparingly off the bench through the NIT.