Feb. 4, 2012
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By ADAM MEIER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team didn’t waste any time building a lead on Saturday afternoon inside Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Penn State. The Hawkeyes led by as many as 21 points in the first half before going on to defeat the Nittany Lions, 77-64.
Senior Bryce Cartwright posted one of his best games of the season, scoring 17 points while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. The point guard’s play thoroughly impressed his coach.
“He was great,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “The way he ran the break in the first half is how he was running at the end of the year (last season). We’re a different team when he’s pushing it. His decision-making today was phenomenal. He played like a senior.”
Penn State struggled to get anything going on offense early in the game, making just one of their first nine field goal attempts; and Iowa took advantage of it.
Already leading 8-2, the Hawkeyes built on their lead when freshman Aaron White hit a 3-pointer to bring the score to 11-2 with 15:36 left in the first half. On the next trip down, Roy Devyn Marble found Cartwright on a backdoor cut for an easy layup, making the score 13-2. A minute later, White knocked down another shot from beyond the arc, pushing Iowa’s lead to 16-2.
“Back-to-back games we’ve come out with defensive intensity,” said White. “We’ve jumped out to leads in both of them, and that’s huge. You show them early that you’re here for the whole night to win the game. If we continue that, we’ll continue winning.”
White finished the game with 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Senior Matt Gatens scored 18 points and made 10-of-11 free throw attempts.
“We did a great job of listening to coach,” said Gatens. “We really bought into the practices before the Minnesota game, and it’s really showing.”
Iowa refused to let off of the gas and following a rebound and put back by Eric May with 6:24 left in the half, the Hawkeyes led comfortably over the Nittany Lions, 27-8.
A minute and a half later, sophomore Zach McCabe made two free throws that gave the Hawkeyes their largest lead of the half at 31-10 with 4:51 remaining. Penn State made a push late in the half, but the Hawkeyes still managed to maintain a 36-19 lead going into the locker room.
For the half, the Iowa defense held Penn State to 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) shooting from the field.
The Hawkeyes kept pouring it on early in the second half and built their lead to 45-19 with 17:38 remaining after Cartwright capped an 8-0 run with a difficult floater.
“Anytime you’re up 17 at the half you want to get it (the lead) over 20 before it gets to 10,” McCaffery said. “They (Penn State) got cooking there and started making some 3s. And Timmy (Frazier) was getting in the lane. We still had enough of a cushion there.”
Frazier did all he could to bring the Nittany Lions back, scoring 15 points in the second 20 minutes; ending the game with a team-high 23 points, while playing all 40 minutes. Frazier’s effort wasn’t enough as the closest Penn State got in the second half was 12 points.
With the win, the Hawkeyes improve to 13-11 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play. The loss drops Penn State to 10-14 overall and 2-9 in the conference.
“Give them a lot of credit,” said Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers. “They were ready to go. They jumped on us. And that just shows you where Iowa is. Fran’s doing a great job.”
The Hawkeyes head to Evanston, Ill., on Thursday night to face Northwestern. Game time is at 8 p.m. (CT) and will be televised lived on ESPNU.