2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Iowa 96 Notre Dame 93

Matthew Holst

Iowa held off the Fighting Irish's potent offense for a narrow victory.

In what was probably the most exciting game of the night, the Iowa Hawkeyes outlasted Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC challenge with a 96-93 victory. Offense was at a premium for both teams, as both shot above 50% from the field. In the process, defense certainly took a back seat in this game for both teams as well.

Notre Dame's Garrick Sherman came out of the gates hot, and was the Irish's main scoring threat for most of the first half. He had the best game of his college career, putting up 29 points on a lethal 12-18 shooting. Iowa didn't have any answers for him. The normally sturdy Adam Woodbury couldn't keep up with Sherman, as he got easy looks around the rim the entire game. Iowa played mostly zone this game, and Sherman essentially ran the baseline the whole time, finding weak spots in the zone. He had enough touch to finish with the contact, which really helped keep the Irish in the game.

However, Iowa didn't let Sherman's strong start ruin what ended up being a fantastic first half for them offensively. Their 52 points at halftime equalled the amount Indiana scored the entire game against Syracuse (lol tom crean). In the first half, Jarrod Uthoff was the most notable scorer off the bench. He really impressed me with his arsenal of dribble moves and his ability to create his own shot. He proved to me that he is a legitimate scorer, not just a beefy Big Ten-style big man. Uthoff looked silky smooth the entire game, hitting some nice turnaround jumpers and floaters. He got to the foul line a total of 10 times, which is one of Iowa's strengths as a team. They went 86% from the line this game, which will be huge for the future of this team. It was nice to see a more of a team effort in the first half offensively.

Once the second half started, things started to turn ugly for the Hawkeyes. Notre Dame went on a 16-3 run, and chipped away at Iowa's 9 point halftime lead. The interesting thing was that Notre Dame wasn't doing anything drastically different; the problem was that Iowa wasn't matching their scoring like they did in the first half. For the beginning of the second half, Iowa couldn't find a bucket with ease. That was until Roy Devyn Marble took over, and singlehandedly kept the Hawkeyes in this game. When the Irish would use strong ball movement to beat Iowa's zone and get an easy basket, Marble would take it upon himself to score. He did it quite well the entire game, finishing with 17 points.

With help from Zach McCabe and Mike Gesell (10 points each), it was only a 3 point game with 2:30 left. But then Aaron White started to take over. He was having a strong game before the final minutes of this game, but it was here where he shined and let Iowa ice this game. He dropped 20 points on 7-9 shooting, plus added 7 rebounds and 7 assists. It was a strong all-around game from one of Iowa's leaders, especially since he had struggled with scoring previously this season. Sporting a gnarly black eye, White got a big 3 point play with 1:50 left in the game, which proved that Iowa wasn't going to let this game slip away.

It's an undeniable positive that Iowa had 5 players in double figures. Increasing their scoring depth will be huge as the season progresses. But the fact that Iowa let Garrick Sherman drop 29 points on what should be a tough defensive frontcourt does not inspire confidence in me. The B1G has plenty of tough big men that Iowa will have to shut down. They've got some work to do defensively down low, but compared to some of the other Big Ten teams tonight, I think Iowa is pleased with their victory.

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