IOWA CITY - Iowa coach Fran McCaffery didn't rant and rave in the locker room with his team down 20 points at halftime to low-major Gardner-Webb.
McCaffery stayed calm, his players got fired up and the Hawkeyes survived their first major test of the young season.
Aaron White and Josh Oglesby each scored 13 points and Iowa came back from a 23-point deficit to clip Gardner-Webb 65-56 on Saturday night.
"I felt like we were tight. We were doubting ourselves a little bit. We weren't making plays," McCaffery said. "We challenged them to a man."
The Hawkeyes responded with 15-0 run to cut Gardner-Webb's lead to eight after it had been as much as 38-15. Iowa took its first lead, 47-46, with 8:22 left, and Devyn Marble's 3 with 2:17 to put Iowa ahead 60-52.
Adam Woodbury had 12 points for the Hawkeyes (4-0), who outscored the Runnin' Bulldogs 47-18 in the second half.
Onzie Branch had 13 to lead Gardner-Webb, which shot 19 percent in the second half.
"That's an ugly number, 47-18," Gardner-Webb coach Chris Holtmann said after glancing at the box score. "I might take this and burn it."
The Hawkeyes were atrocious in the first half and seemed poised to lose at home to a Big South team for the second year in a row.
But Iowa came out the locker room with a noticeable uptick in intensity.
The Hawkeyes quickly made the deficit a manageable one - then erased it entirely.
Zach McCabe broke the string of 3-point misses with two in a row, and Oglesby added another to pull the Hawkeyes with 42-39 with 12 minutes left. Iowa finally tied it at 44 with 9:17 left, and Oglesby's back-to-back 3s gave Iowa a 50-48 lead with just over seven minutes to go.
Marble, who scored all of his 11 points in the second half, shook off a quiet night with back-to-back steals and layups to put the Hawkeyes ahead 54-50.
"He has the perfect demeanor for this game. He was struggling," McCaffery said. "He just has tremendous confidence in himself."
Iowa beat Howard by 30 points on Thursday night by cruising to an early lead and rolling from there.
Well, Gardner-Webb did to the Hawkeyes what they did to Howard.
The Bulldogs jumped all over a shell-shocked Iowa from the opening tip. They led by as much as 38-15 when Isaiah Ivey grabbed a loose ball and flung a turnaround 10-footer home left in the first half, followed by Branch chucking in a rebound underhanded.
"They were making shots. They were getting 50/50 balls and then converting them, and it was a very frustrating 20 minutes for all of us," McCaffery said.
The Hawkeyes struggled from 3-point range against Howard. It didn't matter much then, but their futility from beyond 20 feet caught up to them against Gardner-Webb.
Iowa missed its first dozen tries from 3-point range, and it wasn't all that great inside the arc either. Gardner-Webb seemed to gain confidence with every Iowa miss, scoring 18 second-chance points in the first half alone.
Memories of an ugly 77-61 loss to Campbell last November quickly came to mind.
But this time, a deeper and more experienced Iowa team rallied for an important November victory.
We're "a little deeper. A little more confident going into games. Better as a group. We buy into the defensive end a little more. We gave up 18 points in the second half. That was the difference," White said.