IOWA CITY — You heard the bad blood between these programs every time Ben Brust touched the ball.
Brust, Wisconsin’s fine junior guard, signed with Iowa and then, when Todd Lickliter was fired, bolted for Wisconsin. And then last summer, former Cedar Rapids Jefferson forward Jarrod Uthoff transferred from Wisconsin to Iowa with a whole bunch of wicked national and regional press sent toward UW coach Bo Ryan, who didn’t agree to release Uthoff.
When Brust touched the ball, the Iowa student section booed. When Brust moved, the Iowa student section booed. And on that went.
“You saw it with our student section,” said Iowa forward Aaron White, who led the Hawkeyes with 17 points in a 70-66 Iowa win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “But I don’t even know anything behind that. He [Uthoff] transferred here. It’s a Big Ten game and were going to be excited to play.”
White got Ryan’s attention with his play. So much so, Ryan stopped the hand-shake line after the buzzer and left White with some very encouraging words.
“He told me, nice job knocking down my free throws,” said White, who was 13 of 15 from the free throw line. “He must’ve recruited someone from Drexel, Ohio, which is near my hometown. He said, how did he let me out of Strongsville [Ohio], not recruiting me. He just really complimented me on my game.”
Meanwhile, the hand-shake line came to a halt, with the Badgers waiting patiently behind their coach while he spoke with White.
“He said I reminded him of Chris Street, which is a huge compliment,” White said. “He just had a lot of nice words to say, which you usually don’t see at the end of the game. He really stopped me and talked to me for what seemed like . . . longer than I expected. It was really nice of him.
“He’s a big name not only in our conference, but in all of college basketball. So for him to stop me and say those nice words, that makes me feel good.”
Saturday night was the 20th anniversary of Chris Street’s death. And for the first time since the car accident that claimed his life in 1993, the No. 40 Iowa jersey was seen on the Iowa court.
Appropriately, Iowa director of basketball operations Jerry Strom, who’s in his 32nd year with the program, placed Street’s No. 40 on the Iowa bench, over the back of the chair next to the scorer’s table.
“There was an energy level in the building tonight that I’ve never seen before,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I’ve been in a lot of buildings in my playing and coaching career, and nothing like that. There’s no doubt in my mind there was a difference.”
Nine days ago, Iowa guard Devyn Marble sat out the Michigan State game after suffering ankle and toe injuries in practice that week.
He’s back on the court, but he’s not quite himself. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds, including a killer 3-pointer late in the second half, but said after the game he didn’t have the explosion that he usually has. That actually factored into the 3-pointer. He broke down UW’s Ryan Evans with a hesitation cross-over.
“I knew that he [Evans] had four fouls, so he didn’t want to give up the drive,” Marble said. “So, hesitation and step back. I knew that he was going to give it to me and I took it. With the condition I’m in and not able to really explode toward the basket, the 3 was my best shot at that time.”
Marble said it’s not the ankle as much as it’s the toe, specifically his left big toe. He called it turf toe. The ankle and toe injuries happened on the same painful ankle roll.
“My toe is bothering me right now,” he said. “I’m just staying in the training room trying to get it back to 100 percent. It takes time.”