Iowa Men's Basketball

Giant Garza, jet Toussaint help Iowa roll to win over North Florida

Ospreys battled, but big second half carries Hawkeyes to 83-68 win

Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl (right) jokes with teammate Joe Toussaint after Toussaint had 10 points in the Hawkeyes’ 83-68 men’s basketball win over North Florida at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl (right) jokes with teammate Joe Toussaint after Toussaint had 10 points in the Hawkeyes’ 83-68 men’s basketball win over North Florida at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
/

IOWA CITY — It’s time to play “Guess the Hook” for this story on Iowa’s 83-68 men’s basketball win over North Florida Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Is it:

a) Hawkeye junior center Luka Garza scoring 29 points, giving him 59 in the last two games?

b) Freshman Hawkeye Joe Toussaint looking like a ready-made college point guard with 10 points and four assists in 19 minutes, and a competitive edge to match his quickness?

c) The stands of the 15,056-seat arena being half-empty, with the announced paid attendance at 9,389?

Let’s give the nod to Garza, since he’s the first Hawkeye to score 59 points in a two-game stretch since Jarrod Uthoff in December 2015.

The Ospreys (4-2) of Jacksonville broke to a 12-6 lead and played the Hawkeyes straight-up for most of the first half before Iowa scored the final five points for a 39-35 intermission edge.

The 6-foot-11 Garza had two shots blocked by 6-7 Wajid Aminu before his first basket. He missed his first five shots. Yet, he finished the half with 18 points on his way to the 29, with a game-high 12 rebounds to boot. He made both of his 3-point tries.

Garza is averaging 22.5 points for the 3-1 Hawkeyes, topping the Big Ten. According to the NCAA’s website, Garza leads all Division I centers in scoring.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“I feel like I can score kind of anywhere on the offensive end,” said Garza. “It’s not just the 3, the 2, the midrange. I think that’s just the confidence in my game.”

He was 12 of 13 from the field after his 0-for-5 start.

“I think there’s a lot of things I can improve on,” Garza said, “especially my free throw shooting (3-of-6 Thursday, 15-of-26 this season).”

Iowa asserted itself immediately in the second half, with a 17-4 start to build a lead that never again dipped under 12 points and got as large as 24.

A reason was Toussaint, who brought some New York City point guard off the bench. After a freshman-like game against Oral Roberts last Friday, he was sharp and smart in this one. He went to the basket with physicality. He exudes more of that than you might expect from someone who is 6-foot and 185 pounds. But quickness is his calling card.

“You can’t just be one speed,” Toussaint said. “That’s what makes me difficult to stop because I can change speeds. I can go slow, go fast. Sometimes I don’t go, sometimes I do go. You will never know.”

“He obviously has tremendous speed,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “That’s one thing we like about him. But he (also) has great vision. ... He made one defensive mistake the whole day, which is really incredible for a freshman.”

So Iowa has drawing cards in a high-scoring center and a jet guard. But with a 6 p.m. midweek game televised by BTN against an opponent with no marquee value, this game was far more supply than demand.

“It’s 2019,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “In a perfect world, I’d love to play every game at 7. But the trade-off is having a chance every night to play on national television.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“You can be a fan of one or the other, but in 2019 it’s not going to change back.”

Iowa’s next game is on BTN, too. It’s here Sunday at 4 p.m. against Cal Poly. StubHub has tickets to it for as low as $6.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.