IOWA CITY, Iowa -
Iowa's freshmen points guards cruised through much of the season without issue. Trouble popped up recently when the postseason tipped off. Fortunately for Hawkeye Coach Fran McCaffery, he turned to a junior at the position.
Roy Devyn Marble moved over to the position Wednesday night to post 24 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals as the Hawkeyes knocked off Indiana State, 68-52. A sellout crowd at Carver-hawkeye Arena watched Iowa advance to Round Two of the NIT for a second year in a row.
"He's good," Sycamores Coach Greg Lansing said. "You don't see many point guards that size (6-foot-6). He's so good with the ball in his hands.
"He's a tough match-up. I knew he would be. He's a stat-sheet stuffer, that's for sure."
The Hawkeyes (22-12) play host to Stony Brook on Friday (8:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU). The Seawolves come to town after knocking off Massachusetts, 71-58, Wednesday night in Amherst.
McCaffery turned to Marble, who has played the 1-3 positions throughout his time as a Hawkeye. Wednesday night's move from off to lead guard proved seamless.
"Mike wasn't quite himself. Neither was Clemmons," McCaffery said. "Dev really had to do a lot and he keeps getting better. He's playing as well as anybody in the country right now, without a doubt."
Marble, a supremely confident player, likes running the show.
"For me, playing point guard, I'm just the primary ball handler," he said. "It's not like it's a burden. I kind of play point guard even when I'm at the Two. I don't bring the ball up (the court). Really, that's the only difference.
"I'm comfortable. I play well with the ball in my hands. I can pick my spots. I can create for others. Plus, it's harder for the opposing points guards to score on me because I'm bigger and longer."
Lead guard Jake Odum, Indiana State's top scorer, was held to five points by Marble and others.
"We changed how we were playing ball screens with him," McCaffery said. "We pressed him a little. We played zone and man."
The Sycamores built an eight-point lead and controlled the game for much of the first half. Iowa turned things around when it finally was able to get out in transition. A pair of alley-oop dunks by Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni off of feeds from Marble highlighted a 13-4 run that sent the home team into the intermission with a one-point lead.
The Hawkeyes' momentum continued after the break. Zach McCabe keyed a 19-4 spurt to start the second half by knocking down a pair of free throws and a couple of treys.
"The great thing about him, before he made those threes he missed a couple," McCaffery said. "He's going to shoot. He's going to have his hands and feet ready. He's going to fire. He's going to make them. He's great at the other end, too."
Indiana State (18-15) was overwhelmed after that. A crowd of 15,400 was screaming for the home team and the Hawkeyes continued to feed off of that energy.
"You look at last year's Dayton (NIT) game and this game and the crowd is just so much louder," White said. "I don't know if it's because those guys don't get to go to the games during the regular season or what. It's just really exciting.
"When I heard that Stony Brook upset Massachusetts and we got a chance to play again here, we were all really excited."
It will be interesting to see if Gesell can bounce back on short rest with a bone bruise in his foot that cost him the final four games of the regular season.
"Very concerned. Very concerned," McCaffery said when asked about the freshman's injury. "But we'll see how it goes."