IOWA CITY, Ia. – Bryce Cartwright took a blow to the head one day in practice, and a concussion was feared.
“But I passed all the tests,” Cartwright said. “I didn’t have to sit out. But I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Iowa’s senior point guard, who leads his team against Clemson at 8:20 p.m. Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, said he struggled the most when Iowa played Creighton Nov. 20.
“Everything was foggy,” Cartwright said. “I didn’t feel like I was there.”
Cartwright is getting closer to his old self, the player who led the Big Ten in assists last season. He’ll need to be on his game Tuesday when Iowa tries to win its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge game since 2005. The Hawkeyes have lost five straight and are 2-8 overall in this conference duel.
As the point guard, Cartwright feels it’s on his shoulders to get some of his struggling teammates back in the groove.
“I think that’s very important,” said Cartwright , who will be matched up against Clemson senior point guard and leading scorer Andre Young.
At the head of that list is Iowa sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe. He’s scored two points in each of the last three games, and he’ll be tested by the Clemson pair of 6-9 Milton Jennings and 6-8 Devin Booker.
“They have a complete skill set,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the Clemson duo. “They can put it on the deck. They can shoot 3s. They can post up. They can finish with either hand and they’re phenomenally athletic.”
Basabe, who outdueled Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger in a game last season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, has stood up to challenges before.
“This is where we really need him,” McCaffery said. “I mean, these two guys are all A-caliber players in terms of talent and skill level, and they’re bigger than he is.”
Basabe, who weighed 210 pounds at the end of his freshman season, started camp at 234. McCaffery is trying to get Basabe to shed a few pounds. Basabe also worked on his perimeter game and concentrated on cutting down on turnovers in the off-season. But he vows to return to his strength, instinct, to turn things around.
“Sometimes, I did things last year that I didn’t even think about, I just did them because that’s how I played basketball, and it worked,” Basabe said. “Why would I go away from what has worked? ‘’
McCaffery is encouraged by Basabe’s effort at practice.
“He’s really addressing the situation,” McCaffery said.
Basabe vows to return to the Basabe of old.
“I feel like I’m a player who plays off instinct, is decent around the rim and fights,” Basabe said. “That’s what I am, and what I’ve got to get back to.”
WHO: Clemson (3-2) at Iowa (4-2)
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
TIPOFF: 8:20 p.m.
TICKETS: $20, $10 18-under (UI students free).
RADIO: WHO-AM (1040), Des Moines and Hawkeye Radio Network.
STAT LEADERS: For Clemson: Andre Young 14.4 ppg; Milton Kennings 6.6 rpg; Tanner Smith 4.2 apg; For Iowa: Matt Gatens 16.8 ppg; Melsahn Basabe/Aaron White 4.5 rpg; Bryce Cartwright 4.5 apg.
ABOUT THE TIGERS: Clemson has been to the last four NCAA Tournaments and has five straight 20-win seasons.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Tonight is Bryce Cartwright Bobblehead Night, in honor of the Big Ten’s reigning assist leader.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Iowa’s last victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge came in 2005 against North Carolina State, 45-42.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball