IOWA CITY — Make no mistake, defense was the reason why No. 13 Iowa blasted No. 16 Michigan 85-67 Saturday afternoon.
The Hawkeyes (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten) challenged Michigan sharpshooter Nik Stauskas everywhere on the court. After Stauskas torched Iowa for 26 points in Ann Arbor on Jan. 22, Iowa’s Devyn Marble defended him with diligence. Stauskas scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting Saturday and produced four turnovers, two rebounds and no assists in 35 minutes Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
In the teams’ previous meeting, Stauskas nailed four 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and dished five assists in 37 minutes. Michigan Coach John Beilein declined to reveal what Iowa did differently against Stauskas this time.
“I don’t like giving out what happens all the time, but they did a great job of paying attention to him,” Beilein said. “Guarded him on ball screens in a couple of different ways.”
The obvious difference was McCaffery putting Marble on Stauskas. On Jan. 22, Iowa defended Stauskas early on with Aaron White. Stauskas was able to get separation on the perimeter that night, which he was unable to do on Saturday.
“They had a lot of adjustments,” Stauskas said. “They did some switches on our ball screens and handoffs, which made things difficult. They denied me the ball and when I did try to drive, all of their guys were in the gaps. They were trying to clog up the lane which made it tough to penetrate.”
Marble took the match-up personally, as he does in all defensive showdowns. Two weeks ago Marble held Michigan State’s Gary Harris to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting and scored 21 himself. Marble believed he held the key to slowing down Michigan’s offensive attack on Saturday.
“I really take pride in my defense, to be honest,” Marble said. “I don’t like being scored on and people going past me and stuff like that. I know I don’t show a lot of emotion but that kind of stuff irks me. I take a lot of pride in my defense and I feel I don’t get the credit I deserve defensively some of the time. That’s fine, I just continue to do what I’ve got to do and guard players that need to be guarded on the perimeter.”
Iowa also rebounded — literally — from its first Michigan game by crashing the boards. The Hawkeyes entered both games leading the Big Ten in rebounding, while Michigan was 12th each time. The Wolverines (17-6, 9-2 Big Ten) neutralized Iowa’s advantage in Ann Arbor with 10 offensive rebounds leading to 14 second-chance points. Iowa out-rebounded Michigan by only one rebound and lost by eight.
This time, Iowa was forceful in the paint. The Hawkeyes held a 38-29 rebounding lead and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. While Michigan had nine offensive boards, it led to only six second-chance points.
“We felt like, to beat Michigan, you have to play the kind of defense that we played,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “They have so many different weapons.
“It was not only getting stops, but it was getting stops and then running and getting offensive opportunities in transition and not giving them seconds. They killed us with second shots up there. We were essentially trading baskets and get down to the end and they scored at the end and we didn’t and they won.”
Iowa’s front-line players led the way. Seniors Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe pulled down 10 and six rebounds, respectively. Forward Aaron White grabbed eight and centers Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni each had four.
It’s easy to look strictly to the post to get rebounds but team defense helped give Iowa the edge, Woodbury said.
“The big thing was we were closing on the 3-point shooter and making it tough for them to get open looks and not help them rebounds or run-outs for us,” Woodbury said. “You look at the big guys who’s getting the boards, but it goes a lot with the guards, contesting shots, making it difficult for them to put the ball in the hole. We should out-rebound our opponents every game. We’ve got the size, the athleticism to do it. I think we’ve got the toughness as well.”
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