IOWA CITY, Iowa – Devyn Marble scored 24 points, Aaron White added 11 with 13 rebounds and Iowa cruised past Indiana State 68-52 in the opening round of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Melshan Basabe had nine points and eight boards for the Hawkeyes (22-12), who won a home game in the NIT for the second straight season.
Iowa will host Stony Brook in the second round on Friday night.
Iowa shook off a sluggish start with a 19-4 run to open the second half. Playing before a sellout crowd of over 15,000, the Hawkeyes maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
Justin Gant had 16 points to lead Indiana State (18-15), which was playing in the NIT for the first time since 1978.
Iowa went to the Big Ten tournament last weekend hoping that two wins and a trip to the semifinals might be enough for its first NCAA bid in seven years.
The Hawkeyes, like had they had all year, came up agonizingly short.
Iowa lost to Michigan State 59-56, its fourth league defeat by three points or fewer. Had the Hawkeyes won any of those games, they likely would have earned a trip to the NCAA tournament instead of a second consecutive NIT berth.
For nearly 20 minutes, the Hawkeyes looked like they had a conference tournament hangover. They missed 13 of their first 16 shots and fell behind by eight points.
After a mini-rally to go ahead 31-30 at halftime, Iowa took off.
A layup and dunk off of the fast break by Marble helped make it 44-34 Hawkeyes. Zach McCabe hit two straight 3s, and Josh Oglesby followed with one of his own to put Iowa ahead 50-34.
No one but Gant had more than six points for Indiana State, which shot just 4 of 17 from 3-point range.
If Iowa's fans were upset about an NCAA snub, they sure didn't act that way. The Hawkeyes sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena in about 40 hours and drew the largest NIT crowd since nearly 17,000 saw Creighton host Kentucky in 2009.
The Sycamores held out hopes for an NCAA bid of their own after notching wins over Ole Miss, Miami, Creighton and at Wichita State. But Indiana State lost six of its last eight and stumbled to an NIT berth for the first time since the Larry Bird-led Sycamores made back-to-back appearances in 1977-78.