IOWA CITY | The Iowa basketball team began reaping the rewards Monday from its 84-74 victory over Ohio State.
Senior Devyn Marble, who scored 22 points in Sunday’s victory and averaged 18.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals for the week, was named the Big Ten’s player of the week and the Athlon national player of the week.
And as a team, the Hawkeyes jumped six notches in the Associated Press Top 25, moving up to No. 14.
Perhaps just as significantly, they are beginning to be looked at as a legitimate contender for the Big Ten title after their convincing win in front of a national television audience.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference, “but I guess when all is said and done, if people are talking that way, it’s better than if they’re not talking that way.’’
The win at Ohio State, which fell from No. 3 to No. 11 in the poll, was Iowa’s first conquest of a top-five team since 2001. The Hawkeyes scored more points and shot a higher percentage against the Buckeyes than any team has all season.
That caught the attention of experts from coast to coast.
“It’s probably too early to speculate on those things,’’ McCaffery said of the Big Ten title talk. “That’s kind of the nature of things. People are going to project and hope and honestly evaluate. I think a lot of people are saying ‘Hey, I like this team.’ And I love my team.
“That being said, we’ve only played four games in league play … The challenge is can we consistently perform at the level at which we’ve played so far?’’
Nevertheless, McCaffery said the win was “a big step’’ for his team, which is now 14-3 overall, 3-1 in league play, heading into a home game with Minnesota on Sunday.
“We had a number of opportunities in the game to go away and we just kept coming,’’ he said.
“We got down nine and the crowd was involved, but we really maintained our composure. That was a big step for us.’’