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Energy carries Iowa to 70-66 win

It would be entirely too easy and more than a bit cliché to say Saturday night's game against Wisconsin wasn't a fair 5-on-5 Big Ten battle.

Who cares?

On the 20th anniversary of the passing of Chris Street the Hawks fed off the emotions of the evening to hand the Badgers (13-5, 4-1) a 70-66 setback..

“There was an energy level in the building like I've never seen before,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

Street lost his life on January 19, 1993 in an accident east of Iowa City after pulling out in front of a Johnson County snow plow on a bitterly cold, stormy winter evening. On Saturday every member of the Iowa team warmed up wearing special shirts as a tribute to the Indianola native and wore his intials and uniform number on a patch. Longtime Iowa basketball aide Jerry Strom draped Street's gold No. 40 jersey over the first chair on the team's bench. The evening's halftime program was built around honoring his memory as nearly half of the Iowa players to have won the Chris Street Award joined the Street family on the Carver-Hawkeye court following a short but poignant video tribute.

“It is a big night for us,” Mike Street said prior to Iowa improving to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play. “We certainly appreciate what the university has done and what the fans have done. Without the fans, it probably doesn’t happen, either.”

The Hawks fed off the energy of a packed house to build a 34-18 lead at the half then held on in a roller coaster final 20 minute period.

“Looking at the percentages,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, “we didn't do anything to discourage Iowa in the first 30 minutes.”

The final 10 were another story.

Wisconsin methodically chipped away at Iowa's double digit lead until Devyn Marble nailed a clutch three-point attempt with 2:36 left to play to give the Hawks the shallowest amount of breathing room with a 60-51 lead. The shake-and-bake triple was in the cards all along according to Marble, who out-thought Ryan Evans in the process.

“He was expecting me to drive on him because he had four fouls,” Marble said. “I always think every shot is going in.”

A three-pointer by Wisconsin's George Marshall with 24 seconds left to play made it 66-63 but Marble and Aaron White each hit two free throws to ice the victory.

“Whitey's great at getting to the line and putting guys in a tough spot,” said Eric May, who grabbed 5 of Iowa's 33 rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

White finished with 17 points to lead the Hawks in scoring. Marble had 13 with freshmen guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons adding 11 and 10, respectively.

“I think the great thing is you never know which four it's going to be (on a given night) and that's the beauty of our team,” McCaffery said. “It could easily have been Zach (McCabe) and Melsahn or Josh (Oglseby).”

Marshall led all scorers with 20 points in 15 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor. Sam Dekker was the only other Badger to crack double figures with 13.

Facing a short turnaround, Iowa must now ready itself to face Ohio State in Columbus Tuesday evening. The Buckeyes lost to Michigan State on Saturday and will likely be loaded for bear when Iowa comes calling at Value City Arena.

“They cleaned our clocks the last two times we played them,” McCaffery said.

  • I think this game needs to be analyzed from two angles. First, from a purely basketball perspective, this was a very big win for this team. Iowa had already hosted two upper-tier B1G teams this year, and dropped heartbreakers in each one. This was definitely a bit of a breakthrough win in that regard. Also, heading into Tuesday's game in Columbus, Iowa can be no worse than 2-4 after an extremely tough gauntlet to begin the conference slate. I honestly thought 1-5 wouldn't be the end of the world, as the schedule lightens up a bit in the final 12 games of conference play, so 2-4 would be great. And, obviously, there's still the potential to be 3-3.

    This team played with a maniacal effort tonight, which is what Iowa will need every night in B1G play. But just playing with great effort isn't always enough - you also have to be very aggressive and confident on both ends of the floor, and I thought Iowa was tonight. Getting to the majority of the loose balls, taking the ball to the basket whenever possible, running the floor in transition, getting in the passing lanes on defense, rotating to help out on defense, etc. Iowa can play with anyone in the conference when it plays with that level of intensity and aggressiveness on both ends of the court. That's not easy to do, but the players should have proof that it's possible.

    Marble's three after Wisconsin had cut it to six was enormous. How he continues to develop will likely determine, in large part, whether or not Iowa can make the Big Dance. There will be a lot of games that come down to the last minute from here on out, and he's Iowa's best player at creating his own shot on offense.

    I love watching Clemmons play. He really reminds me a lot of Aaron Craft, Ohio State's starting point guard. Not necessarily great shooters, but they're capable of hitting big shots, very good passers, bring a ton of energy to the game, excellent defenders, both very tough and scrappy kids that excelled as high school football players, and they both do whatever it takes to win the game. I definitely think he was a steal for the Hawkeyes, and it's exciting to think he's only a freshman.

    This really was a total team effort, as everyone brought it for 40 minutes and chipped in with big plays when they were on the floor.

    The other angle to analyze this game from is that it came on the night where the Hawkeyes were honoring Chris Street. As I mentioned above, Iowa couldn't have played much harder tonight, and couldn't have been much more aggressive or fearless. To do that for a full 40 minutes in front of a raucous crowd in a hard-fought win against an upper-tier B1G opponent - not sure there could have been a better way to honor Street. And I thought it was fitting that the game didn't end up being a blowout. For as well as Iowa played, Wisconsin buckled down on defense and hit some huge shots on offense, and made the Hawkeyes earn it. And Iowa responded to the adversity it faced and did just that, showing the same fighting and relentless spirit that Street was known for.

  • GREAT game !!!!! I wish I could have been there!!!

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