By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 8, 2014
IOWA CITY — Outrebounded, outhustled and outmuscled, the No. 10 Michigan men’s basketball team couldn’t silence the crowd or stop Iowa, suffering its largest loss of the season.
With the open concourse of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, it’s hard to contain the noise that flows throughout the building. As the sound carries, hitting the ceiling and windows paneling the concourse, the volume seems to grow louder and louder as action unfolds. Hoping to contain or stop that flow — highlighted by Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble outstanding performance in the first half — proved to be impossible for the Wolverines on Saturday.
“Iowa punched us early today,” said Michigan coach John Beilein, “and it was hard to respond.”
After scoring 13 points in the team’s last meeting in January, Marble poured in 14 of his team-high 26 points — on four 3-pointers – in the game’s first 10 minutes to give the Hawkeyes (7-4 Big Ten, 18-6 overall) a 14-point lead — one they never looked back from in their 85-67 win.
“We knew they were going to come out strong,” said sophomore guard Nik Stauskas. “We knew the crowd was going to be a big part of this game. But that’s the same for any game in the Big Ten. It means what are we going to do in response. And I think we did an OK job at times but overall it wasn’t good enough.”
As Iowa made six out of its first seven triples, No. 10 Michigan (9-2, 17-6) made only one of its first seven attempts.
“You know, it changes everything,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery regarding Iowa’s hot start. “(Do) you shoot threes? Do you not shoot threes? Do you drive it? Do you grind it? When you’re behind, it changes your entire approach.”
Stauskas didn’t score his first basket of the game until 7:01 left in the half, so the Wolverines rode the hot hands of sophomore guard Caris LeVert (22 points) and freshman guard Zak Irvin (19 points). Behind the duo, Michigan was able to go on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 33-25. But Marble was there to silence the Wolverines and ignite the Hawkeye faithful as he had been from the beginning of the game.
After making a three to end Michigan’s run, Marble made his sixth triple — for 22 points in the half — as time expired to end No. 17 Iowa’s 7-0 run as it went up 14.
“That was a Player of the Year candidate performance today,” Beilein said. “Iowa is blessed to have a player like him. He is hungry because Iowa was so close last year. It is players like him that are going to make it happen. He is tremendous.”
Marble enabled Iowa to shoot 53.3 percent from the field and 73 percent (8-for-11) from behind the arc thanks to an 8-for-13 shooting performance from the field in the first stanza. Meanwhile, the Wolverines struggled to match that shooting, going 27 percent from deep as they were outrebounded 20-11 with Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White gathering six apiece.
Even after it shut down the Hawkeyes to begin the second half, Michigan failed to box out and mark defenders in the zone. The Wolverines allowed nine offensive rebounds as a result, while collecting just 17 rebounds — nine fewer than Iowa, ultimately.
Offensive rebounding may have helped put the nail in the Wolverines’ coffin, but it was Iowa’s defense that ultimately overpowered Michigan.
“We felt like, to beat Michigan, you have to play the kind of defense we played,” McCaffery said. “They have so many different weapons. You know, so 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.”
The Wolverines were unable to reduce the deficit below 14 in the second half and never had a chance to replicate its second-half play against Michigan State — where it put together a stretch of small runs before unleashing a rash of play to overcome the gap.