Iowa CITY, Iowa - Iowa accomplished what it should have on Saturday. The Hawkeyes blew out an inferior opponent to end a two-game skid.
The home team scored the game's first nine points and never was threatened in a 88-59 blowout of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Iowa improved to 6-2 while handing the Islanders (1-5) their fifth loss in a row in front of an announced crowd of 12,628 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery has said he's comfortable going deep into his bench. That showed Saturday when 10 different Hawkeyes scored and the reserves chipped in with 44 points. Iowa also finished with a 38-23 edge on the boards.
"Our focus on the defensive game plan was maybe the best we've had all year," McCaffery said. "We beat a team that I think is pretty good; (made them) look less talented than they really are because we played guys the right way, battled on the glass.
"But they have individual skills, each guy they put on the floor. We were pretty solid and pretty locked into that. That's what you have to be when you're playing teams that have talented offensive players."
Second-team forward Melsahn Basabe paced the Hawkeyes with a 17 points, just the second time he's reached double figures this season. The junior from New York also shared team-high rebounding honors with five in jet 13 minutes.
"It wasn't a game where I came in thinking we could coast," Basabe said. "I came into the game knowing I needed to work on stuff and build my confidence. I just came into the game focused to play basketball and do what I'm capable of doing."
Said McCaffery: "What he was was very aggressive. That's what we need him to be. I don't think he has been as aggressive in recent weeks. It's great to see.
"He was alert. He was on the glass. He was driving the ball to the basket, running the floor. When he's playing like that, we're a better team."
Iowa junior Roy Devyn Marble scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Freshman Center Adam Woodbury added 13 points, six of which came in the game's first six and a half minutes. He also avoided the early foul trouble that has plagued him at times this season.
"That was a big key for me to get some more time in there, to get more comfortable," Woodbury said. "I felt like the game came easier to me staying out of foul trouble and went more smoothly."
The Hawkeyes built their insurmountable, 44-23 halftime lead with top scorers Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White being held to a combined six points. Basabe and Woodbury picked up the slack, scoring 15 and 11, respectively, on 8-of-8 shooting from the floor and 10 for 12 on foul shots.
"We have a lot of guys that are capable of scoring 20 points on any given night," Marble said. "It's nice that there will be nights where me and Whitey might not have as many points and we'll still be able to be ahead."
McCaffery altered his starters for the first time this season, inserting Anthony Clemmons into his Top 5 in place of Zach McCabe. That gave Iowa three freshmen (Woodbury and Mike Gesell) in the opening lineup for the first time since Matt Gatens, Aaron Fuller and Anthony Tucker did it against Boston College in November of 2007.
"I felt like Zach would benefit from coming off the bench," McCaffery said. "I felt he was pressing a little bit. I probably did it more for Zach than I did for Anthony.
"This is a team that is a small, quick, so it also helped us match up a little bit."
Clemmons only scored two points, but he had five assists against just one turnover in 21 minutes.
"I didn't know I was going to be officially starting until (Friday)," Clemmons said. "I just wanted to play the same as I would coming off the bench, you know, hustle plays, distributing the ball and things like that."
McCaffery said the starting lineup change might not be permanent.
"We'll evaluate that," the coach said. "It may stay. It may change again. We'll see."
The Hawkeyes return to the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they welcome South Dakota to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.