IOWA CITY — Iowa shooting guard Mike Gesell was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after scoring 23 points against Northern Iowa on Saturday.
Gesell, a 6-foot-1 native of South Sioux City, Neb., hit 6-of-9 shots, including four 3-pointers, in the Hawkeyes’ 80-73 win at Wells Fargo Arena. His 23 points were a career high.
“I knew I had to be aggressive,” Gesell said. “I didn’t shoot as well the last few games, and I knew this whole week I had to stay positive about it and just keep attacking. Personally I know I’m a good shooter. I have confidence in my own game. I just had to stay aggressive.”
Gesell hit three pivotal 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Panthers at bay. The first pushed Iowa to an 8-2 lead. The second gave Iowa a 13-10 lead, one the Hawkeyes wouldn’t relinquish. The third ended a four-minute, eight-possession scoring slump and pushed Iowa’s lead to eight points.
“I made my first shot, and that’s always a great feeling,” Gesell said. “The hoop was looking big to me, and I knew I had to stay aggressive and shoot.”
Aaron White was the last Iowa player to pick up Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. He did so on Feb. 6, 2012.
Michigan’s Trey Burke claimed his second Big Ten Player of the Week award after averaging 27 points last week in wins against Binghampton and West Virginia. Iowa guard Devyn Marble missed the league honor but was named CollegeSportsMadness’ top player after notching 30 points in 37 minutes against Northern Iowa on Saturday.
Marble, a 6-foot-7 junior guard, set a Wells Fargo Arena record for points scored in a Division I men’s basketball game in the Hawkeyes’ 80-73 victory as part of the inaugural Big Four Classic. Marble knocked down four 3-pointers and was 14-of-19 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, two assists and two blocks with only one turnover.
“What was amazing with him was I didn’t rest him that much, and he seemed to have an incredible energy level the entire time,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I moved him around: he played some point, he played some two, he played some three. He guarded a lot of different people and stuck his nose on the glass. It looked to me that he was really determined to make sure we won the game.”
Marble scored Iowa’s first five points against the Panthers and helped keep the Hawkeyes ahead midway through the first half. Marble drilled two 3-pointers to take Iowa’s lead from five points to 11 with 8:15 left in the first half.
“I’m finding different ways to take what the defense gave me,” Marble said after the game. “Against Iowa State, I felt was a little too relaxed and let them do what they wanted to. (Saturday) I did what I wanted to do.”
“I think he started hitting a little so I think that would make anybody more comfortable,” McCaffery said. “He’s got the green light so I never tell him not to take it.”
Marble leads Iowa in scoring at 15.1 points a game and tied for the team high in assists with 35. His 14 made free throws and 19 attempts Saturday are the most by an Iowa player under McCaffery, and both are also arena records for Division I men’s games.
Matt Gatens earned co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors last February after scoring a combined 63 points last February in wins against Indiana and Wisconsin. Jake Kelly was the last Hawkeye to earn the award outright on March 9, 2009.
Iowa (9-2) closes out non-conference play this week with games against South Carolina State (Wednesday) and Coppin State (Saturday). The Hawkeyes open Big Ten season Dec. 31 against Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
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