COLUMBUS, Ohio — Devyn Marble had every type of Ohio State defender guarding him Sunday afternoon, yet the Iowa senior guard found impressive ways to put his mark on all of them.
Marble attacked forward LaQuinton Ross early on. He posted up on guards Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Shannon Scott. Later, Marble closed down the game against Buckeyes’ all-everything defender Aaron Craft.
Moments after his 22-point performance, Marble delivered as freely with his words as he did on the court in Iowa’s 84-74 win at Ohio State. He had no problems dishing on the program, his match-up with Craft and especially on the high-profile signature win the Hawkeyes had searched for under Coach Fran McCaffery.
“We’re here to stay,” Marble said. “We’re going to be a part of that Big Ten title run when it comes down to the closing end of this season. I think in that sense, we did it on national television, it’s my first CBS game. I wasn’t going to be denied this.”
Marble was named the Big Ten’s player of the week Monday, Iowa’s first honoree since Matt Gatens in 2012 and first solo award winner since Jake Kelly in 2009. Marble was 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line, but he also grabbed four rebounds, dished three assists, collected three steals and blocked two shots. That effort came off a 15-point, six-assist, zero-turnover performance against Northwestern last week.
Iowa (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) moved up to 14th by the Associated Press and 16th in the Coaches’ poll Monday. Marble was a big factor why. Late in the game Marble shifted to point guard and managed the game effectively. He absorbed Craft’s tenacious pressure with only one late turnover and forced the Ohio State senior to foul out. Three of Craft’s fouls were called while defending Marble. Craft also had a career-high six turnovers.
In a match-up of all-Big Ten-caliber guards, Marble came out the victor on Sunday.
“I knew they were going to have to do that sooner or later,” Marble said of putting Craft on him. “He’s competitive; he doesn’t want to see me scoring. He’s a guy I came into the conference with, we had our battles, verbally and on the court. That’s a guy I respect. He competes. I’m a guy that wants to compete.
“I think I’m one of the best players in this conference, and I know he thinks that. We’re going to go at each other’s heads, and I got to the jugular first.”
McCaffery’s initial goal was for good offensive execution early on. In the first half Marble scored 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Iowa’s offense was efficient and 16 of its first 19 points were in the paint.
“He was really playing free and easy,” McCaffery said. “He was off the ball, he was on the ball, he played with great energy, he did not seem to tire. They were going after him. They put Craft on him. He just kept coming. When he does that, it really reflects positively on the rest of the guys in terms of their confidence level.”
Marble averages 16.4 points a game, but he puts up 19.8 points in Big Ten play, ranking second in the league. He’s 14th all-time in Iowa scoring with 1,412 points. If he reaches his scoring average in a minimum 16 more games (14 in the Big Ten, two in the postseason), he’ll crack the top five.
He also has the complete confidence of his teammates.
“Dev does what he does,” Iowa senior Melsahn Basabe said. “Everything he’s done over his career speaks for itself. He’s a big-time player, he shows up in the big games, he’s fearless, he’s scared of no one. That’s what I expect from him as my brother and my roommate.”
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