IOWA CITY — After last weekend, Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery isn’t taking anybody lightly. As he indicated after a runaway win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Thursday, anybody can beat anybody in college basketball on any given night.
Iowa almost fell victim to that last Sunday before a second half rally saved the Hawkeyes from being upset at home by Nebraska-Omaha, who then nearly knocked off UNLV on Friday. In between, Iowa’s most recent Sunday opponent, Abilene Christian, used 10 first-half 3-pointers to score a lead at Maryland.
“Every day there are teams beating other teams that you didn’t think were supposed to beat those teams, and you don’t want to find yourself in that situation with five minutes to go because you weren’t ready to go at the start of the game,” McCaffery said.
Devyn Marble made sure Iowa didn’t have to go on upset alert Sunday. Scoring 22 of his season-high 27 points in the first half as Iowa thumped Abilene Christian in a 103-41 win on Sunday. Marble scored 15 of the Hawkeyes’ first 17 points in an impressive offensive performance.
“I felt like it’s supposed to happen,” Marble said. “I work on my shot every day. I shoot well in practice. It was only a matter of time. I just needed to get into a rhythm.”
The win also locked up Iowa’s first national ranking in eight seasons. The Hawkeyes were rated 25th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, earning the program’s first ranking since the 2005-06 season, Iowa’s last time appearing in the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa showed on Sunday that they certainly belong in the mix with the other top-tier teams Abilene Christian is testing itself against this year in non-conference play.
“It’s not a big team. They’re in a transitional phase. They’re playing a murderous schedule,” McCaffery said of Abilene Christian. “Very difficult situation for a team to be going through. They’re in Pittsburgh, New York, they’re in College Park, Maryland then they’re in Iowa City.”