STATE COLLEGE, Pa.†ó Devyn Marble took another step on the road to consistency with a 22-point effort Thursday in a 74-72 win at Penn State.
It wasn't just the points; it was the performance. For the second straight game Marble hit at least half of his shots, sinking six of 12 from the field. He played 31 minutes, got three big assists and pulled down three rebounds.
In a one-week span Marble has shifted from the team's public scapegoat to back as its on-court leader.
"It was only a matter of time," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "He was in a little bit of a slump. Heís too good of a player. Like I said, Iím going to keep going to him. I kept going to him down the stretch, (to) make free throws. He had one turnover, but sometimes that happens."
Marble scored nine of Iowa's final 10 points to give the Hawkeyes their second Big Ten road win. With 5:19 left, he finished with a a high-arcing shot off the glass to give Iowa a seven-point lead. After the Nittany Lions closed within two points, Marble exploded to the basket off a crisp Aaron White pass for a dunk. He followed one possession later with a pair of free throws to put Iowa ahead six.
Iowa's grip on the game started to slip, but Marble put the Hawkeyes back in position for the win. With a small, yet raucous crowd jeering him at the line, Marble knocked down two free throws with 20.9 seconds left to give Iowa a 72-68 lead.
"I had great confidence in him, he has great confidence in himself," McCaffery said. "We wanted him to get fouled in that situation. I felt very comfortable that he would make them. Thatís a big difference: four (point lead) versus three. One possession, two possession ... it changes everything. Iím happy for him. He needed that, too."
After a Penn State basket and a Melsahn Basabe free throw boosted Iowa's lead to 73-70, Marble was asked to foul Penn State's Jermaine Marshall. Marshall hit both free throws with 1.5 seconds left, and Iowa still led by one point.
Marble received the inbound pass and was fouled with 1.1 second left. Marble hit the first free throw but intentionally missed the second. Penn State's Brandon Taylor came down with the rebound but his desperation heave sailed wide of the basket at the buzzer.
Marble was happy with the win, but thought about a key turnover with a minute left, when Penn State's Ross Travis stole the ball from him.
"Iíve got to get that turnover at the end out of my game but we worked hard, we played defensively, we rebounded the ball well, we made free throws down the stretch, 20 of 26," Marble said. "We deserved to win the game, and thatís why we went out there and expected to win."
Marble now has scored a combined 43 points in Iowa's last two games and is 14-of-25 during that span. That sounds much better to him and his teammates than the 8-of-44 shooting performance over the previous four games.
"I know heís talented and he helps me, and Iím glad," said fellow Iowa junior Melsahn Basabe of Marble's performance. "Iím starting to hit my stride so I can run with him."
1. Not pretty but a win. Iowa did everything to lose that game but somehow found a way to win. Twice Iowa had double-digit leads, only to give up a 16-0 first-half run, then a 7-0 run in the second half.
McCaffery said Penn State's persistence kept Iowa from closing out the game.
"You donít expect anything else from Penn State," he said. "Theyíre going to keep coming."
"They stick around, and thatís why theyíre always in a position to win the game," Marble said. "Theyíre going to get over the hump sooner than later. We respect them a lot. At the end of the day I thought we played harder and tougher."
2. Basabe really battles. Basabe put up one of his best performances with 11 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals in a season-high 34 minutes. His biggest block came with 22 seconds left when he hammered down a Marshall attempt inside, and Marble came down with the rebound.
"I just wanted to protect the rim, and I knew we needed it," Basabe said. "I knew they were driving. I kind of had a sense of where they were going to go."
"Heís typically struggled with his conditioning, to play 34 minutes," McCaffery said. "Iíve had to watch and get him out, but he seemed to really have it (Thursday). Four big blocks, that was huge."
3. Strategy pays off. When Marble was fouled with 1.1 seconds left, initially there was only 0.1 seconds remaining. After the officials looked at the monitor, an extra second was placed on the clock.
Marble then went to the free-throw line shooting two and Iowa leading by one point.
"We wanted Marble to miss that last one," McCaffery said. "If it was one-tenth, I might have told him to make it. With one second, (Brandon) Taylorís got to grab the rebound, turn and make a 85-foot shot. If he does that, then we go home."
Taylor's attempt was strong, but way to the left of the rim.