July 3, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Our countdown of the 10 top Iowa men's basketball games from 2011-12 continues today with a look back at Iowa's 77-64 triumph over Penn State on Feb. 4 in Iowa City. What makes this contest so special was not as much the game itself, but recognition of the 1986-87 Iowa men's basketball team that posted a school-record 30 wins and was one game from advancing to the Final Four before the game and the popular gold throwback jerseys that the current Hawkeye team donned against the Nittany Lions.
The Hawkeyes fed off the intense emotion of the pregame ceremony that honored one of the University of Iowa's most beloved teams, leading by as many as 21 points in the first half.
Senior Bryce Cartwright led the Black and Gold, 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."
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.
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, 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. The 19 points was the lowest first-half output by a Hawkeye opponent during the season.
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.
Tim 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.
"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."
Watch the highlights of the pregame ceremony and the win over the Nittany Lions by clicking HERE.
Return next week as we look back at the fourth-best game.