Iowa Men's Basketball

A double double-double for Iowa men's basketball in win over Oral Roberts

Luka Garza gets career-high 30 in 87-74 win, and Jack Nunge comes alive

IOWA CITY — It was double-double, toil and trouble for Oral Roberts’ men’s basketball team Friday night.

Luka Garza and Jack Nunge, a pair of 6-foot-11 players the visitors from Tulsa, Okla., couldn’t look in the eye, each had double-doubles in scoring and rebounds in the Hawkeyes’ 87-74 win over the Golden Eagles at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Junior Garza had a career-high 30 points and 10 rebounds. Nunge, a redshirt sophomore, had 14 points and 10 boards after being 0-for-5 from the field over Iowa’s first two games.

Garza hit two early 3-pointers, but got the vast majority of his points on low-post moves. He notched the 30 despite facing a lot of double-teams.

“I try to avoid the double-team as much as I can so I can go right into my move,” Garza said. “I’ve been dealing with double-teams all my life. Obviously it’s the first time I’ve been really focused on in college. I’ll just continue to adjust to that.”

Nunge missed a layup on Iowa’s first possession. Instead of going into a shell, he canned a 3-pointer on his next shot and had seven points in the first four minutes.

“Coach was on me both days at practice (this week), keep shooting, look for my shot more, be aggressive. I tried to do that tonight.”

Like Garza, Nunge hit a pair of 3-pointers.

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“I thought he was outstanding,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s physical on the glass, not afraid to come back and shoot if he missed one. He’s got a beautiful stroke. We want him to keep shooting the ball.”

This was a palate-cleanser of sorts for the Hawkeyes. The sour taste from Monday night’s 93-78 home loss to DePaul will linger a while longer, but the Hawkeyes were focused and crisp at the get-go Friday.

That held true until the game’s last 10 minutes. The Hawkeyes led by as much as 21 points, but the Golden Eagles cut it to 82-74 with 1:34 left before succumbing.

Freshman guard Max Abmas had 25 points for Oral Roberts.

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery had 10 points and seven assists. His brother, freshman forward Patrick McCaffery, sat out the game.

“Patrick has got some residual issues as related to his previous illness,” said Fran McCaffery, his father.

Patrick was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March 2014 and underwent surgery and treatments that successfully removed the disease. He went on to become Iowa City West’s all-time leading boys’ basketball scorer and a two-time first-team all-state player. He helped West to the Class 4A state title in 2017.

“Nothing life-threatening, the cancer’s not back or anything like that,” Fran McCaffery said. "But there are a lot of changes in his body that we are working through and we’ll take it day by day.”

Patrick, who is 6-9 and 190 pounds, watched Friday’s game from the Hawkeyes’ bench.

Iowa’s next game is here next Thursday at 6 p.m. against North Florida.

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

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