Nov. 28, 2013
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NASSAU, Bahamas — It’s not about how you start, but how you finish. The University of Iowa men’s basketball team overcame a 15-point second half deficit to down Xavier, 77-74, in overtime in its first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“With the team we have out there, we’re so deep and versatile, we’re in any game, whether we’re down 20 at home or down 10,” said junior Gabriel Olaseni. “We always have the ability to come back because we have so many guys and coach trusts us.
“We always thought we could win this game.”
After ending regulation tied at 69, the Hawkeyes took their first lead via a pair of Olaseni free throws. The Muskateers knotted the game at 73 on a fast-break layup by Justin Martin with 2:21 remaining, but sophomore Mike Gesell had a quick answer, putting the Hawkeyes back on top with a short floater just 14 seconds later.
An Aaron White put-back layup following a pair of Hawkeye misses made the score 77-73 with 1:34 remaining before Xavier’s James Farr made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it a three-point game with 1:17 left. Iowa survived three Muskateer 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds to hold on for its sixth win to start the season.
Senior Roy Devyn Marble scored a season-high 30 points — one shy of a career-high — making 10-of-23 field goal attempts and four 3-pointers. The guard made just 6-of-11 free throw attempts before sitting the final six minutes because of severe cramping.
“The thing I liked about him was how aggressive he was from the start,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We were clearly sideways offensively, and we couldn’t get anything to fall, couldn’t get a 3 to fall, were fumbling the ball and got down 11-2. It didn’t seem like it was going to be our night offensively. Then he puts us on his back and goes for 30.”
Senior Zach McCabe scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, White scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Olaseni notched a his first career double-double, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He was 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
“Everybody that was out there contributed,” said Marble. “I knew they were going to get it done, even though I went out. I told them to keep being aggressive.”
Iowa shot 35.3 percent from the field, making 24-of-68 attempts. The Hawkeyes went 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range and was 23-of-34 (67.6 percent) from the free throw line.
Xavier shot 39.1 percent (25-of-64) from the floor, 6-of-24 (25 percent) from long range and 64.3 percent (18-of-28) from the free throw stripe. The Muskateers won the rebounding battle, 49-45, but committed 19 turnovers. Justin Martin paced Xavier with 15 points, and he was one of four Muskaeteers in double digits.
Xavier led 37-30 at the break and extended its lead to 41-30 a minute into the second half. The Muskateers pushed their lead to a game-high 15 points (47-32) on a three-point play by Semaj Christon with 15:56 remaining and led 55-42 with 12:13 to go.
“In the huddle there was no panic,” said McCaffery. “There was 15:56 to go, so there was plenty of time (left). We just have to keep chipping away at it. It can’t go from 15-to-22; it has to go from 15-to-8. That’s what happened.”
With 10 minutes to play, Marble drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 10 (55-45) and ignite a 12-0 Hawkeye run to cut the lead to 55-54 with 7:21 to play. White followed with a fast-break dunk and Marble hit a second triple to make the score 55-50. Two Marble free throws cut the lead to three before senior Melsahn Basabe’s fast-break dunk made it a one-point game.
Iowa trimmed the lead to one point a second time (60-59) before clawing its way back to even the game at 67 via a Gesell jumper with 1:41 to play. After two Isaiah Philmore free throws put the Muskateers back on top, an Olaseni layup evened the game at 69 with 54 seconds to play.
Xavier missed two layups before turning the ball over on its final possession of regulation, giving the Hawkeyes the ball with 24 seconds to play. Iowa went to McCabe, but his shot was blocked by Matt Stainbrook with six seconds to go, sending the game to overtime.
Iowa came out of the gates slow, falling behind 11-2 to start the game. The Hawkeyes trailed 37-30 at the half, and Xavier added to its lead with two free throws and the ball before a second came off the clock in the second half when McCaffery was whistled for a technical foul heading into the locker room at the break.
“Last year, I don’t think we would have been able to pull (a game like this) out,” said Marble. “I was on the bench and I told the guys these are the games we have to win. When we came out, they were ready to finish the game.”
The Hawkeyes (6-0) will face the winner of the Tennessee/UTEP game Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT). The game can be seen live on the NBC Sports Network.