After a strong start on Thursday against Northwestern, the Hawkeyes held off a game group of Wildcats and survived and advanced in the Big Ten Tournament. Following the win, Devyn Marble, Mike Gesell, Aaron White, and Melsahn Basabe talked about getting past the Wildcats and the significance of Friday's game against Michigan State and what it could mean for their NCAA Tournament chances.
Watch our videos and read a post game transcript below.
Q. How does feel to get back playing in a game?
MIKE GESELL: It felt great. It's tough having to sit out and watch the guys, but at the same time I was just trying to do what was best for the team. And when I was out, I was just cheering the guys on and it felt great to be able to come in and play some minutes and make some contributions to the team.
Q. Mike, from the beginning of the season just out of high school, freshman year, does it feel like it kind of slowed down for you at this point or has it made any difference since early in the season?
MIKE GESELL: I would say it has. One of the differences was the physicality and the speed of the game when I made the jump. The coaches do a great job of preparing us and battling against my teammates every day in practice. It's just helped out a lot. It's expanded my game a lot.
Q. Eric, kind of talk a little bit about some offensive rebounds you had in the second half. It really seemed to keep possessions alive and then of course your dunk in the first half. Describe what you were feeling.
ERIC MAY: I got to give credit for the way he opened that right up, and he would be mad if I didn't give him a shout out. So he gets the assist on that. But in the second half it was offensive rebounds, those are huge. Key to the season with us is to keep the clock turning and at that point running the clock was on our side. So, doing that was big time. That's what I tried to get after.
Q. Question for the three of you. Each of you made a pretty big three down the stretch every time Northwestern would get close. Talk about how that kind of kept you ahead, a distance ahead that you would ascribe to the three-point ball.
DEVYN MARBLE: There was some big shots for us three. Can't really remember the play, but, yeah, we made some big shots. All of us were struggling to get the ball in the hole midway in the second half. We all were able to come up and knock down some shots. So that was good. I thought that we could have made about five or six more free throws out of those 32, but at the end of the day I was proud of our performance and now we got to get ready for the next one.
ERIC MAY: Northwestern's tough. They don't go away, like coach said. They're always in the game. They can shoot the ball so well. Those threes kind of answered their call, that was huge for us to keep that lead and keep that distance from those guys. Because they're dangerous when it gets down like that.
MIKE GESELL: I would say in some of our close losses this year down the stretch, we just weren't playing as confidently as we should. Even though each of us had missed a few shots, we shot it with confidence and that's what you got to do down the stretch. You got to play to win. You can't play not to lose. And those are the shots that you got to take when you're open and we were able to knock them down.
Q. You didn't get to play against Michigan State the first time. You're a Michigan guy are you looking forward to tomorrow's game?
DEVYN MARBLE: It's another opportunity for us to get a big win. I'm not in that phase any more of having to go against home teams. That was probably cool the first time around as a freshman, but now I'm older and more mature, and I understand what's really at stake. So I'm just looking at it as another opportunity to get a key win.
Q. For the upperclassmen, there are a lot of people who are Iowa fans who are saying tomorrow night's game is the biggest Iowa game in a long time. How do you players view it?
ERIC MAY: I'm glad people are getting excited about this. They should be. I think we're giving them reason to be. It is a -- every game this season has been a big game. Especially in the Big Ten. So for us to be in this position, it would really be-- for people to be excited and just how much things have changed is really encouraging. It shows what we have been doing and the work we have been putting in and the results we're getting from that work.
DEVYN MARBLE: I think it's a big game just because it's the next one. But I think, like Eric said, we have come out and had a pretty decent, good season. But giving people reason to be excited about forthcoming games, and all we have to do is go out there and not disappoint.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE GESELL: Just to come to an atmosphere like this, it's a little bit quiet in there just because it's such a big arena. So you got to continue to keep up the intensity and I think we did a good job for our first game out there of taking care of business. We just got to stay focused and take one game at a time.
ERIC MAY: I don't think we get too caught up in all that. At any point in the season if you're a bubble team, you go and win your conference tournament. We're coming in here to win a tournament, win a championship. The rest will take care of itself the post season play.
DEVYN MARBLE: I think that whatever a lot of people are thinking, we're just here to win a championship and that's been the goal and the task at hand. And tomorrow's just another chance and opportunity to keep going towards that goal. Today was a stepping stone, we took care of business and now it's on to the next.
Q. Mike, how did it feel to be back out there with your teammates playing? And also wonder if any of you others could comment on that also.
MIKE GESELL: It felt great. Every time I get to go out there and compete with these guys, it's a lot of fun. I love all my teammates and they're fun to play with. We have a very unselfish group and the older guys have done a great job of helping me through this season, through the ups and downs of being a freshman. It's been a fun season so far and I'm just looking to keep it going with these guys.
ERIC MAY: It's great. Mike's a great player. He makes solid plays and he's another killer from three-point range. He can knock down shots. It's just huge. He brings energy. So we're really glad to have him back and really going at this full force.