IOWA CITY — Devyn Marble had one point at halftime. Teammate Aaron White had zero. Normally, that’s a flatline stat line for Iowa when playing an aggressive, confident Big Ten rival like Minnesota.
But this time it wasn’t a death certificate for No. 14/16 Iowa. Backups Josh Oglesby and Gabe Olaseni filled the first-half scoring void to keep the Hawkeyes within two points. Then when Marble and White started clicking, the game turned into a rout.
Marble scored nine points in the first 2 minutes, 8 seconds of the second half to power Iowa (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) past Minnesota 94-73 Sunday at sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Marble, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, scored 16 second-half points. White, who had his only first-half shot attempt blocked in six minutes, scored 18, including 10 at the free-throw line.
“Obviously it’s the worst half we’ve had since we’ve played together,” White said. “We were both aggressive coming out in the second half with (Marble) hitting couple 3s. Offensive rebounds got me going, I hit the hook shot off the post. It was just unacceptable how we played in the first half, so we had to pick it up in the second half. We did a good job, and that’s why the score reflects it.”
With the Hawkeyes trailing 43-41 at halftime, Marble broke off a set play on Iowa’s initial second-half possession and drove to the basket. He scored and was fouled by Minnesota’s Elliott Eliason. Marble sank the ensuing free throw to put Iowa in the lead 44-43.
Minnesota’s Maurice Walker converted his own three-point play on the other end, and Iowa’s Mike Gesell matched the score at 46-46 with a jumper. Then Marble sizzled. He drilled a pair of 3-pointers — the second from NBA range — on consecutive possessions to put Iowa ahead by six. Then Marble misfired on a third straight 3-point attempt, but it landed safely to White under the basket. White put it back in to boost Iowa to a 54-48 lead.
Marble’s initial scoring drive was big for Iowa. But it was less important to Marble.
“From a confidence standpoint I was fine,” Marble said. “If I would have missed it, I would have came down and got another one. It was more that I saw the opportunity. They iced the ball screen, and their big man didn’t recognize it so I just went. The play wasn’t even designed for me, but I just went and took advantage of it.”
The Gophers (14-5, 3-3) kept within a decent distance of Iowa even as another Marble 3-pointer and jumper put the Hawkeyes up 10. Minnesota trimmed Iowa’s advantage to 75-69 with 5:54 left. White then scored the game’s next eight points — six on free throws — to put Iowa decisively in control. Iowa finished the game on a 15-2 run.
But if it wasn’t for Oglesby and Olaseni, the climb would have been much more steep. Iowa trailed 43-33 with 1:13 left in the first half. A Gesell drive, followed by a pair of 3-pointers from Oglesby — the second with 3 seconds left in the half — gave the Hawkeyes momentum.
Oglesby hit all five first-half attempts, including four from 3-point range. He scored 17 points overall and grabbed three rebounds. Oglesby later knocked down a 3-pointer to boost a six-point advantage to nine with 5:35 left in the game.
“When he’s hitting, now he’s a superstar,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “But if he is not making shots, he is still an incredibly effective player, and that’s why he was on the floor at the end of the game.”
Oglesby shot 26.9 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore last year. He is shooting 60 percent from 3-point range this year.
“I feel like I have all the confidence now,” Oglesby said. “Last year was obviously a struggle for me, and I was down a lot. I just kept believing in myself and coach, he’s helped me through all of it. He’s told me to keep shooting, and I’m very thankful for having a coach that has confidence in me and kept going to me.”
Sunday’s win was the 20th straight at home for Iowa. It also marked the first of four games in a 10-day period, including a pair of road trips to Michigan and Northwestern, respectively. It’s likely the Hawkeyes earn their first Associated Press top-10 ranking since Jan. 1, 2002. That’s important in perception, but in reality, it doesn’t matter to McCaffery.
“I understand why people talk about it, and I think it’s great that people are talking about us that way,” McCaffery said. “But I just think it’s irrelevant.”
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