March 2, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One way to protect the home court is to protect the basketball.
The 20th ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team was plus-11 in the turnover department Sunday (16-to-5), held an 18-4 advantage in points off turnovers, and defeated Purdue, 83-76, on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes committed 18 turnovers at Indiana and 13 at Minnesota earlier in the week.
“The last two games we had way too many turnovers,” said UI point guard Mike Gesell, who had one miscue in 27 minutes against the Boilermakers. “That isn’t like us. All year we haven’t been a turnover team and we were back to our usual selves today.”
Iowa (20-9 overall, 9-7 Big Ten) improved to 13-3 at home, snapped a three-game losing streak and extended the string of consecutive defeats for Purdue (15-14, 5-11) to four. The Boilermakers have lost nine of their last 11 games.
The five turnovers ties for the fewest by a Fran McCaffery-coached Hawkeye team. It was an opportune time to take care of the ball since Iowa shot 43.3-percent from the field — 29.6-percent in the second half.
“When you don’t shoot a good percentage, like we didn’t in the second half, you have to give your team a chance every time you come down,” McCaffery said. “(Purdue) is so quick, if they turn you over anywhere around the 10-second line, it’s a layup.”
An added bonus of not turning the ball over was forcing the Boilermakers into 16.
“We got a lot out of our three-quarter court press,” McCaffery said. “The zone was good.”
Purdue point guards Ronnie Johnson and Bryson Scott combined to go 0-for-9 from the field with 11 turnovers. With 11:21 left, Purdue led 64-60, but three minutes and three turnovers later — and after a huge 3-point field goal by UI junior Aaron White — Iowa took the lead for good, 65-64.
“Turnovers were the key,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We had some good looks at the basket, we just turned the ball over way too much.”
UI senior Roy Devyn Marble continued to impress with 21 points, five assists, four steals and no turnovers in 38 minutes. Marble has scored 20-or more points in the last four outings.
“I play him at the two, I play him at the one, I play him at the three,” McCaffery said. “He guards bigger guys, smaller guys, I isolate him, I post him up, I set him up on ball-scree action, I set him up on staggers. He plays a ton of minutes. He’s going to get the ball late. I think he’s the guy right now.”
Gesell and White both scored 15 points; they combined to make 16-of-21 free throws. White pulled down 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double (fifth of season and 13th of career).
A fourth Hawkeye to score in double figures was Josh Ogelsby with 11. With 3:33 left and Iowa nursing a one-point lead, Oglesby sank a 3-point field goal to extend the lead to 72-68. It was the Hawkeyes’ first field goal in 4:34.
“Coach (Kirk) Speraw told me to keep shooting, I was shooting good shots and he said the next one would fall,” said Oglesby, who was 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. “I saw (Marble) come off the screen and I saw an open look and I rose up and shot it.”
Oglesby wrapped up the game’s scoring by going 2-of-2 from the line with eight seconds left. Iowa attempted 36 free throws in the game and made its final five — three by Gesell and two by Oglesby.
The Hawkeyes took (you could say stole) a 13-point halftime lead. Paced by Marble’s three steals — Iowa had six during the first 20 minutes — the Hawkeyes held advantages of 12-2 on points off turnovers and 14-2 on fast-break points. They shot 54.5 percent from the field (18-of-33).
Marble scored 13 points in the first half, followed by White and Gesell with nine apiece. There were 10 lead changes in the first half.
Purdue scored on six of its first seven possessions after the break, cutting Iowa’s lead to three at 52-49. The Boilermakers took their first lead of the second half at 62-60 with 11:54 remaining. Iowa did not panic.
“It was a gut check, there’s no question about that,” McCaffery said. “We showed a lot of character.”
The Hawkeyes close the regular season next week beginning with a road test at Michigan State on Thursday (8 p.m., CT) and its home finale Saturday against Illinois (7:30 p.m.).
“Michigan State on the road. Don’t have to say much more than that,” McCaffery said. “Plus, they just lost their last game, so they’re going to be ready for us. We’ll be ready. It will be a great atmosphere, a huge game.”