IOWA CITY — For the first 20 minutes, Luka Garza’s assault on the Iowa record book on full display in Friday afternoon’s game with Southern University.
The Hawkeye All-American outscored the visiting Jaguars by himself in the first half. Garza had 36 points, compared to the 35 for the visitors. Garza cooled in the second half, scoring just five as the No. 5 Hawkeyes rolled to a 103-76 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It looked like Garza was on his way to topping John Johnson’s school scoring record of 49, set in 1970, but Southern changed its defense, doubling and even tripling Garza at times. The Iowa center also picked up a couple of quick second-half fouls that put him on the bench.
His 41-point effort was an arena record for a Hawkeye player, breaking the mark of 36 held by both Adam Haluska (2006) and Rob Griffin (2000)
Even with his offensive output, Garza’s focus after the game was on the team. He was quick to credit his teammates for getting him the ball in good scoring positions
“No one’s worried about anything but scoring the basketball,” Garza said. “I didn’t say anything, I think it was just the flow of the game. I was getting to my spots and they were getting me the ball.”
Garza was perfect in the first half, hitting on all 12 of his field-goal attempts. In fact, his only miss of the game came in the second half as he forced up an attempt to beat the shot clock. He finished 14-of-15 from the floor.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery has seen Garza do many good things over his career, but the first-half output something unusual.
“I haven’t seen too many guys get 36 in a half,” McCaffery said. “Certainly his performance at Michigan last year (44 points) was like that. but (Southern) doesn’t have a lot of size. They like to play a lot of smaller guys. It’s a credit to our guys that they recognized that and looked inside to him.”
The game was never in doubt as Iowa scored the first 11 points of the game. The lead was 23 at halftime and the Hawkeyes led by as much as 34 in the second half, moving to 2-0 on the season.
Garza voiced some concern about lapses the team had in the second half. The Hawkeyes gave up 19 offensive rebounds and were actually outrebounded, 42-37 overall by the Jaguars
“We’ve got to be a better defensive rebounding team, especially in the second half,” he said. “We’ve got to be better in that area to make sure we can close out games. There’s nothing for us to really be comfortable about just two games in.”
McCaffery was pleased to hear Garza’s concerns. The Iowa coach was emphatic with his instructions during the game and in timeouts.
“I was tough on them,” said the Iowa coach. “It wasn’t because we weren’t executing. It was good. We were missing some shots and you are going to miss shots. On the offensive end, thay had 19 rebounds, we had 10. We’re not supposed to get outrebounded in a game like this.”
Junior Joe Wieskamp was the only other Hawkeye to finish in double figures. He ended up with 16 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Southern (0-2) was led by Ahsante Shivers with 13 points.
The Hawkeyes return to action next Thursday when they host Western Illinois at 7 p.m.