IOWA CITY — Iowa point guard Bryce Cartwright missed his second consecutive game with a high ankle sprain, which forced Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery to play walk-on point guard Branden Stubbs in the first half.
Iowa guard Eric May did not play because of back issues, and starter Zach McCabe was in foul trouble throughout the game. So McCaffery used walk-on forward Darius Stokes during two stretches.
The replacements did their part. Stubbs played only two minutes but did not make a mistake. Stokes played five minutes, his first major contributions in a meaningful game. Stokes scored a basket on a tip-in from a Devyn Marble miss and grabbed a rebound.
McCaffery credited the walk-ons for filling in when the team needed them the most.
“The things about those two in particular, they’re smart,” McCaffery said. “So they understand what it means to play to your strengths and your weaknesses in a situation like that and understand what are we trying to do. So I trust those guys.”
May played just five minutes at Penn State and eight the previous game at Northwestern. He earlier missed a game against Minnesota.
Cartwright hurt his ankle in practice on Feb. 11. He didn’t play at Penn State either.
“They’re both real close, real close,” McCaffery said. “Eric felt a little bit better today for really the first time. We’ll see how he does (Monday). Bryce is substantially better than he was a couple three days ago. He might still be one or two games away. He’s doing things (Sunday) that he wasn’t doing (Saturday), and that’s the encouraging thing. He’s progressing at a good pace.”
Aaron White continued to make a major impact for the Hawkeyes, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds at Penn State last week. His numbers were similar at Northwestern (17 points, 12 rebounds) and a home game against Penn State (17 points, nine rebounds).
Melsahn Basabe had one of his best games of the season, scoring 13 points with seven rebounds. But his major impact was blocking five shots. Devyn Marble scored 10, had seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 38 minutes.
“I wasn’t tired,” Marble said. “This is the best shape I’ve ever been in in my entire life.
“I was producing. I was fine.”
The Big Ten continues to show its depth with surprising results the last few days.
Penn State, which was mired in last place, beat Iowa 69-64 on Thursday. Saturday, Nebraska blasted former conference leader Illinois 80-57. Iowa then upended Indiana 78-66 on Sunday.
“We’re not the only one who came here and walked away with an L,” Indiana Coach Tom Crean said. “Everybody is trying to take care of home court. It’s an outstanding league, there is no question about it.”
“It’s the best conference top to bottom in the country,” McCaffery said. “They’re not even close. The quality of teams top to bottom is the reason they’re the No. 1 ranked conference in the NCAA.”
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