AMES — Late in the second half of Thursday’s Cy-Hawk men’s basketball game, Iowa big man Luka Garza caught an elbow to the chops from teammate Joe Wieskamp on a rebound.
Garza thought he lost his tooth. Understandably, and admittedly, he freaked out a little.
Once he realized it just got knocked back and not out, he calmed down.
Then Garza re-entered the game.
That sequence signified Iowa’s toughness in its 84-68 win over Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. It was Iowa’s first win in Ames since 2003.
“They kicked our butts,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “There aren’t any excuses. We had a sellout crowd, but we didn’t show up. Transition defense was the biggest key of the game, we knew that coming into it, and I didn’t have our guys ready. I’ll own it. We got embarrassed and we have to live with it. We got our butts kicked. Credit to Iowa.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knew Garza was tough beforehand, but this just reaffirmed his toughness.
“He already had his face stitched up without any pain medication and went back in the game,” said McCaffery, referencing Iowa’s win over Texas Tech in Las Vegas earlier this season. “He got his tooth knocked back tonight and I think it was by Wieskamp on a rebound. I thought he was done for the night but then he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go.’ So I put him back in.”
Iowa was in total control from opening tip to the final buzzer, thanks, in large part, to Garza.
“The important thing when you’re playing on the road against a really good and very well-coached team is it’s important to get off to a good start and we did,” McCaffery said. “The critical thing as you move through a game is how you handle adversity in a game and we did a really good job of that tonight.”
Iowa jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the first five minutes, forcing Prohm to call a timeout.
“We lost the game in the first five minutes when it was 16-4,” Prohm said. “I should’ve called a timeout when it was 8-2 because we gave up an offensive rebound, didn’t switch a guard-to-guard ball screen and then we gave up a transition 3. Those are all things you talk about every single day in practice.”
Iowa State tried to claw its way back in the game but the Hawkeyes had an answer for every run the Cyclones could muster.
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“I’m just really proud of our guys and our resiliency,” Garza said. “They were just going to keep coming at us here in their home gym. They had some different runs and we did a great job of combating every one of them, one of theirs with one of ours.”
Garza led the way for the Hawkeyes, dominating in the low post. The junior scored 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Iowa had four other players score in double digits. Joe Wieskamp had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting and eight rebounds, Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery each had 12 points and C.J. Fredrick had 11.
“They’re quick, they were up into us defensively, they were competing and I think the important thing at that point was to move the ball side to side and find people that were open,” Fran McCaffery said. “We had a lot of different people making shots tonight and we made enough post feeds to Garza and drives to get into the bonus so that coming down the stretch when they were fouling, we were going to the line so we had a chance to shoot two.”
Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton was one of the only Cyclones to have a good game on offense. The Cyclones as a team shot just 42 percent from the field, but Haliburton had 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, five rebounds and five assists.
The biggest problem for the Cyclones was Iowa’s zone defense, which shut the Cyclones down in the first half.
“We didn’t run any offense,” Prohm said. “We didn’t move the ball. The ball stuck. We’ve missed a lot of good open looks this season, but tonight we missed a lot of bad looks. We didn’t move the ball, we didn’t attack in the high post — we didn’t get anybody to the high post. We knew we were going to see a lot of zone tonight. It’s all we did for the last three days.
“We tried to get Tyrese in the middle of it in the second half to help out because he’s our best decision maker and that helped for a while, but then we couldn’t sustain anything defensively.”
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Haliburton did everything he could to keep the Cyclones in it, but it wasn’t enough. He and Solomon Young were the only Cyclones in double figures and Young had just 10 points.
“They wanted it more than us,” Haliburton said. “They played harder than us and that was the biggest difference throughout the whole game.”
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