The Iowa Hawkeyes were reeling from back-to-back home losses, and they had a tough test to get back on track: hosting the Big Ten-leading Michigan Wolverines. Suffice it to say, the Hawkeyes passed that test with flying colors after their 85-67 rout of the Wolverines.
Iowa started the year well but sit in third place in the conference thanks to home losses at the hands of Michigan State and Ohio State in the last two weeks.
A third loss to the cream of the Big Ten crop would have put a serious damper on any conference championship hopes that head coach Fran McCaffery had for his team.
Consequently, there was palpable energy and excitement from a rabid home crowd that sensed the magnitude of this game. The electric atmosphere fueled the Hawkeyes from the start, as they jumped out to an early lead behind the hot shooting of Roy Devyn Marble, who finished with 26 points.
That initial haymaker to the gut of the Wolverines left John Beilein’s team winded, gasping for air and already knocked out of the game.
With both teams possessing comparable talent, it was hustle, activity, physicality and emotion that propelled the Hawkeyes to the easy win.
It's a long season, but no excuse for Michigan not competing harder. Interior defense nonexistent against Iowa.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) February 8, 2014
The Iowa defenders harassed Michigan’s two leading scorers, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, holding them to 12 combined points on 4-of-13 shooting and forcing them to commit eight turnovers.
The stifling performance of Coach McCaffery’s defense allowed the Hawkeyes to take a 43-29 lead into halftime.
That lead only grew in the second half.
The result was never in question after Iowa’s run to open the game, and now both coaches have to get their teams to move on from this performance to prepare for their upcoming games.
Michigan needs to get its groove back before a Tuesday tussle against Ohio State, while Iowa needs to avoid a trap game against Penn State on Saturday.
Nik Stauskas: F
Stats: 10 points (3-of-6 FG, 1-of-3 3P), 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers
Nik Stauskas has significantly improved in his sophomore season, stepping up into the void left by Trey Burke to take over as the leader of this Wolverines team.
He leads Michigan in scoring with over 17 points per game and contributes nicely all over the court with over three rebounds and three assists per game.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have a good day at the office against the Hawkeyes. He’s had issues when matched up against smaller, quicker defenders who can cut off his driving lanes and stick with him coming off screens, and that was once again the case against Iowa.
He is relied upon as the leading scorer for the Wolverines but couldn’t deliver, with most of his points coming after Iowa had already jumped out to a commanding lead.
Michigan was clearly rattled early, and Stauskas did nothing to lead his team when it needed him the most.
Glenn Robinson III: D-
Stats: 2 points (1-of-7 FG, 0-of-3 3P), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Glenn Robinson III deserves as much blame as Stauskas for the disappointing Michigan performance, but his all-around effort earns him a slightly higher grade.
Robinson hit the first bucket of the game for Michigan, but those were his only points of the afternoon. As always, he was fairly active on the defensive end, but he was a complete non-factor offensively (unless you’re counting bricked three-pointers and a total lack of aggression).
The son of a former NBA player, Robinson is widely considered a first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft. But he needs to perform better in big games to help his team win more games and assure scouts that he has the competitive fire to compete at the next level.
Roy Devyn Marble: A
Stats: 26 points (8-of-17 FG, 6-of-10 3P), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers
If you’re a casual college hoops fan, you may not have heard of Roy Devyn Marble prior to this game. He made sure you knew his name after this contest.
Marble is the Hawkeyes' leading scorer, but it didn’t seem as though Michigan knew that early on. The Wolverines consistently lost him in transition and left him wide open for a number of uncontested threes.
He led the early Iowa scoring barrage that put the game out of reach and scored 22 first-half points (more than half of Iowa’s first-half total).
His six three-pointers combined to form one giant dagger in the heart of the Wolverines, and he put the game to rest with his last three just before the half-time buzzer.
Marble‘s confidence was evident, and it helped the rest of his team outplay Michigan for the entirety of the game.