Iowa punched Michigan in the mouth Saturday, and Roy Devyn Marble had an awful lot to do with it.
The Hawkeyes raced out to a huge lead against the visiting Wolverines and never looked back, avenging a loss in Ann Arbor with an 85-67 pounding at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
And Marble was the key figure as the Hawkeyes sparked a noisy crowd. The senior guard scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half, including six 3-pointers in the game's first 20 minutes.
"That was a Player of the Year candidate performance today, that's for sure," Michigan head coach John Beilein said after the game.
And in addition to his scoreboard-exploding scoring barrage, Marble put on a defensive clinic, as well, sticking to Michigan sharp shooter Nik Stauskas like glue and helping to hold his fellow Player of the Year candidate to just 10 points.
"You know, it's very difficult to get 26 in a game like this and at the same time guard the other team's best player," Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. "It's one of the reasons why we didn't put him on him up there (in Ann Arbor). I didn't want to do that to him. I didn't want to get him into foul trouble. I just said, 'You've got to go get him and you've got to do it at both ends,' and when he does that, I think it has great impact on everyone else's energy and everybody else's performance."
It did Saturday.
Marble was just one of six Hawkeyes to score seven or more points on the afternoon. While he was the key figure, his teammates joined in on the team's quick offensive start, and the Hawkeyes never let up. They scored 43 in the first half and another 42 in the second. And the defense held strong, too, handing the 10th-ranked Wolverines their worst loss of the season, their second defeat in three games.
For Iowa, it was a nice bounce-back performance following back-to-back home defeats to Michigan State and Ohio State.
"I think we've been through a lot," McCaffery said. "We've got an experienced team. We have really good guards. We have multiple players that can step up for you if somebody is not playing well. I think we have a belief in ourselves that there's never any panic, and I think we have a willingness to look within ourselves and say, "OK, we lost." We are not a group of finger pointers. They don't blame each other, they don't blame me. They look at the film and they study it and try to get better, and they are honest with themselves. I think if you do that, you are more likely to be able to come back and play better in the next game."
Beilein pointed to the same thing McCaffery did to explain Iowa's play this season: experience. That means Marble, but also the other two seniors on the Hawkeyes. And it's a factor that could make the Hawkeyes a very dangerous team come tourney time.
"There's some really good seniors in this league, and they're so blessed to have him and (Melsahn) Basabe who are hungry," Beilein said. "They were so close last year, they've watched the program just grow like this. And (Zach) McCabe the same thing. They have three seniors. And I've had some teams like that. The seniors, they're going to make it happen, and those three are making this thing happen.
"And it's tremendous, it's a great story."