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Cartwright ‘great’ as Iowa pushes past Penn State

[ 1 ] February 4, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia.–  It was an order, coach to parent.

“Hey, you can’t go back,” Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery told Anthony Cartwright after Saturday’s 77-64 victory against Penn State before an announced crowd of 13,510 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Anthony, the father of Iowa point guard Bryce Cartwright, will return home to Compton, Calif., today. He leaves after watching his son stuff the box score to the tune of 17 points, a career-best seven rebounds, five assists and just one turnover.

“He was great,” McCaffery said after his team improved to 5-6 in the Big Ten and 13-11 overall. “The way he ran the break in the first half is how he was running it at the end of the year. We’re a different team when he’s pushing it.”

Box score: Iowa 77, Penn State 64

Cartwright was one of four Hawkeyes scoring in double figures. Senior Matt Gatens finished with 18 points, while freshman Aaron White added 17 points and nine rebounds and Zach McCabe 10 points.

“He’s that junkyard dog,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers called White. “He’s that glue guy that you need.”

Cartwright has had an underachieving senior season. Injuries, a possible concussion and a lack of confidence put him out of sorts. McCaffery said afterward that he wondered if Cartwright would ever regain the form that saw him lead the Big Ten in assists while scoring 10.9 points a game as a junior.

Cartwright played huge in a win at Wisconsin on the last day of 2011 — 17 points and five assists to one turnover.

“I think we all saw it that, ‘OK, this is him, he’s back,’ ” McCaffery said. “He had a couple of bumps after that. Wait a minute, is he back or isn’t he back?”

Bryce would call home, looking for a shoulder to lean on.

“A lot of times, you just have to be there as a family for support,” Anthony Cartwright said. “It’s not always about stats. He just had to get out there, relax and play his game.”

On a day off several weeks ago, Cartwright went in to talk to assistant coach Kirk Speraw.

“I ended up talking to all of the assistant coaches before I talked to (McCaffery),” said Cartwright, one of the team’s captains. “I just wanted a clear understanding of what they wanted me to do, because I knew I could contribute way more to the team.”

McCaffery told Cartwright he wanted more rebounds. And he wanted him to play defense.

“I just wanted to know exactly what he wanted, so I could focus on it more,” Cartwright said. “I wanted to hear it from him.”

Anthony Cartwright also was on hand for Wednesday’s 63-59 win over Minnesota, when Bryce contributed six points, four assists and hit a pair of clutch free throws. Inserted back into the starting lineup at Indiana after coming off the bench the previous 12 games, Cartwright has responded.

“Knowing that coach trusts you plays a big part in it,” Cartwright said.

Iowa jumped on Penn State (10-4, 2-9 Big Ten) to start both halves, overcoming Tim Frazier’s 23 points.

The Hawkeyes took a 16-2 lead, then turned a 36-19 halftime advantage into a 26-point lead. Cartwright was in the middle of it.

“He’s a senior,” Chambers said. “Seniors always step up.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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