IOWA CITY, Iowa - Around the country at this time of the year heads are turned by upsets in non-conference action. Major conference teams trying to stack up wins and build confidence get tripped up by lower tier schools.
It's happened to upcoming Iowa opponents Notre Dame (Indiana State) and Penn State (Bucknell) as well as No. 12 North Carolina (Belmont). After a close call against Nebraska-Omaha last week, the Hawkeyes have been conscious to avoid that fate.
The latest conquering of the meek occurred Sunday afternoon here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa rolled over Abilene Christian, 103-41, in front of an announced crowd of 14,733. The winless Wildcats led by six at Maryland earlier this week before falling, 67-44.
"We knew what they were capable of so we just wanted to come in and set the tone so that's what we came out and did," Iowa Senior Roy Devyn Marble said.
Marble led the charge scoring 15 of his team's first 17 points as the Hawkeyes (4-0) built a double-digit advantage six and a half minutes into the game. Marble finished with a season-high 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting from the floor during his 20 minutes.
"He's been terrific," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "He was really mixing up his game with threes and drives and pull-ups. That's the reason we moved him back to the two spot, to get him all over the floor with the ball. That's where he's at his best."
Freshman Peter Jok, who had been struggling with his shot, settled in on Sunday. He added 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the floor, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc.
"I talked to a lot of people about my game and they just told me to let it come to you; don't force anything. When you're open, shoot it," Jok said.
Zach McCabe and Gabe Olaseni each chipped in with 10 points for the winners, who shot 38 of 61 on field goals, including 9 of 21 on threes. The Hawkeyes handed out 25 assists against just five turnovers.
"We're playing really well as a team," said Aaron White, who scored nine and grabbed seven boards in 17 minutes. "You look at the numbers, we're really sharing the ball. Just about everybody again tonight scored."
Twelve of 13 Hawkeyes who played registered at least one point and eight players notched at least six. Despite leading by 24 at halftime, the home team never let up. It used a 32-4 run out of the intermission to blow things wide open.
"Every day there are teams beating other teams that you didn't think were supposed to beat those teams," McCaffery said. "You don't want to find yourself in that situation with five minutes to go because you weren't ready to start the game."
One of the only down moments at Carver on Sunday was when McCabe left the game in the second half after being helped to the floor following a collision.
"He'll be fine," McCaffery said. "Something with his tooth. You can't hurt him. He's like a piece of steel."
Iowa returns to action on Friday in Carver-Hawkeye when Penn of the Ivy League visits.