Most of the teams participating in this weekend’s Battle 4 Atlantis left cold environments for The Bahamas, and while the change in climate is definitely a bonus it can also affect the players in a negative manner. That was the case for the two best players on the floor during the quarterfinal matchup between Xavier and No. 23 Iowa, with Xavier’s Semaj Christon and Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble being sidelined due to cramping.
The first player to go down was Christon, who was instrumental in the Musketeers’ ability to control much of the action in the game’s first 30 minutes. With their lead guard unable to contribute Xavier struggled offensively, with Marble (30 points) sparking a Hawkeye rally in the second half. But just as Marble looked poised to push Iowa to the win in regulation he went down with a cramp in his right calf, and the end result was both players missing the extra session.
In the extra session Iowa’s supplementary pieces proved to be more effective, resulting in the Hawkeyes picking up the 77-74 victory. And if there’s anything to be taken out of the result it’s that those players will need to become more consistent if Iowa is to factor into the Big Ten race and earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Entering the game both Aaron White (13.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Jarrod Uthoff (11.8, 6.8) were averaging double figures, and as a team Iowa was shooting 47.5% from the field.
But against Xavier, which represented their toughest test to date, Iowa shot 35.3% from the field and 6-for-23 from beyond the arc. And players other than Marble (10-for-23) combined to shoot 14-for-45 (31.1%). Marble’s clearly Iowa’s best player, and as he goes so go the Hawkeyes. But if Iowa’s to reach its full potential he can’t be the only one doing the “heavy lifting” against quality opponents. With Marble sidelined Iowa was able to make the plays needed to complete the comeback, rebounding 40% of their missed shots (Gabriel Olaseni grabbed seven of their 20 offensive rebounds), and they’ll need to continue to do so as the schedule gets tougher.