Iowa basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, center, watches his team during Thursday's game in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey)

Abby Drey

IOWA CITY - Perhaps many of the 13,000-plus fans in attendance Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena consulted their programs - "who are No. 32 and No. 34?" - when two new faces checked in during the first half of Iowa's 78-66 win over No. 18 Indiana.

While the observers were surprised, second-year Hawkeyes Branden Stubbs and Darius Stokes were not.

"Coach had a meeting with each of us and told us to be ready to get out there since we're short on players," Stubbs said. "We were ready to go."

With point guard Bryce Cartwright and swingman Eric May nursing injuries, Stubbs provided 2 minutes of relief as the primary ball-handler, and Stokes logged 5 minutes to give the Hawkeyes a bigger body against the Hoosiers.

"The first half, I was a little nervous," Stokes said. "But once I got in there, I calmed down a little bit. I was just trying to bring energy and be active defensively."

Both walk-ons, Stokes and Stubbs had seen Big Ten Conference playing time only at the tail end of blowouts. They have a combined 21 minutes in 14 league games.

Thus, their production on the scout team goes unseen by the throngs on game day.

"They're bright. They can learn an offense in 12 minutes and run it effectively," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "When you're thinking about making a move against a ranked team, (it's about) when am I going to put these two guys in the game? Mentally, it was never an issue. They know exactly what we want done."

The redshirt freshman Stokes, who said he most enjoyed emulating Indiana forward Christian Watford before actually playing against him, is another legacy Hawkeye. Matt Gatens and Devyn Marble's footsteps-following stories have been well-documented, and Darius has his own rich bloodlines as the son of Greg Stokes, Iowa's No. 3 all-time leading scorer behind Roy Marble and Acie Earl, respectively.

"This has always been a dream of mine, just to wear the black and gold," said Stokes, whose younger sister Kiah was Miss Iowa Basketball 2011 as a Connecticut commit. Both kids were Linn-Mar products.

"My dad had a great career, Devyn's dad had a great career. So it's a fun time to be a Hawkeye right now."

Stubbs joined the 2,000-point club at Des Moines Christian and recorded the second-most assists (717) in Iowa prep history.

"Both of them are real team-oriented individuals. They're not thinking about themselves," McCaffery said. "When they come in and contribute, they become part of the story. That's the beauty of it."

Cartwright (right ankle) will attend all the game preparatory sessions as if he's going to play Thursday against No. 16 Wisconsin. While McCaffery listed him as questionable, it sounds closer to doubtful Cartwright will attempt to produce a second consecutive stellar performance against the Badgers.

"I think he would make a big impact in the game, but I'm not sure he's going to be able to play," McCaffery said. "It's the explosion and the pounding - he's not there yet. So we'll see."

May (back) has a slightly better chance to appear Thursday.

IOWA ITEMS

* Fran McCaffery on Matt Gatens not receiving a mention Monday for Big Ten Player of the Week, despite scoring 51 points and hitting 12 3-pointers: "I really didn't pay much attention to it. Now that you mention it, I would have been very surprised, yeah. I think he deserved it."

Michigan State's Draymond Green got his third honor in four weeks.

* McCaffery on Illinois coach Bruce Weber's position on the hot seat: "I wish nobody in our business would have to go through it. It's always been a very public profession - even more so today, I think. It's unfortunate because he's a terrific man, a great family man and a great coach. He's had phenomenal success."

Iowa plays Illinois for the first time this year Sunday in Champaign.

* Gatens on Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry: "We're always part of recruiting battles, we share borders. I know I don't want to lose to them. That's a team you want to go after and beat."

Wisconsin and Iowa are tied 77-77 all-time in basketball, and 42-42-2 in football.

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