IOWA CITY — Iowa’s players smiled and laughed and watched their highlight reel with nary a care during the final media timeout Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes were in the midst of crushing Central Arkansas in an eventual 105-64 win. The second half was filled with alley oop dunks, no-looks passes and blocked shots for Iowa.
You know, fun. As in basketball can be fun once in a while.
“Games like this you’ve got to create your own energy,” said Iowa junior Eric May, who had 10 points, two assists and three steals. “It’s not as packed, school’s out, Monday night. I think we did a good job. We created energy for ourselves.”
“That was a fun game. I liked the pace of that game,” said Iowa freshman Aaron White, who scored 17 points in 21 minutes. “We got out and ran and finished above the rim.”
White had four dunks alone in the Hawkeyes’ most dominant performance of the season. Iowa (7-5) controlled the game throughout and took a 24-5 lead to open. The Hawkeyes had some lapses late in the first half, and the Sugar Bears cut their deficit to eight points. But Iowa came out strong after halftime with a 13-2 run to lead by 24 points 5:22 into the second half.
Five different Iowa players scored in double digits, and Iowa had 32 assists to only 14 turnovers. Iowa outscored Central Arkansas 64-24 in the paint and 23-4 on fast breaks.
“We shared the ball really well,” May said. “Our offensive movement has been good in practice, but it’s something that we still have to … you still can’t catch yourself standing still.”
Point guard Devyn Marble continued his stellar play with 19 points, six assists and only one turnover. He added three rebounds and a steal while hitting 9-of-10 free throws in 23 minutes.
“I thought he was absolutely fabulous tonight,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s rebounding, he drove and found people, he scored it, he hit jumpers. He just kept coming. What a game by him. He just keeps getting better. Proud of him.”
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Marble has scored in double digits in seven of Iowa’s last eight games and now enjoys a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. McCaffery was asked if he expects Marble to play like each night and said, “Yeah, I do, absolutely. You know, and I think more importantly, I think he sort of expects it from himself.”
Marble shifted to the point based on need last year. But now sees himself as a true point and likes it.
“I just embrace the point guard role,” Marble said. “I know what a point guard is supposed to do understanding basketball, and that’s being a leader on the court. I’m working on being a leader verbally. I’m obviously trying to do that using my actions.”
Melsahn Basabe played only 13 minutes but scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Matt Gatens added 11 for Iowa. Basabe said the win was vital for developing confidence entering the team’s final non-conference game Thursday against Boise State.
“I see it as a true victory in how we conducted ourselves,” Basabe said. “That was a good thing to see. Once you start stringing wins together, and you start winning and you feel a winning aroma, then you go into games with a winning attitude. We need to get Boise State. That will be three. Then you come into Purdue with swagger of winning and it carries over like a snowball effect, just like bad stuff snowballs. Good stuff can snowball, too. Sometimes people don’t realize that.”