Iowa Men's Basketball

Luka Garza moves to top of Iowa men's basketball scoring chart in win over Penn State

Garza leads Hawkeyes to hard-fought 74-68 win over Nittany Lions with 23 points

IOWA CITY — With a record to break, Luka Garza was momentarily nervous Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and it showed.

He sat through the first media timeout of the second half knowing he was going to the free-throw line for two shots. If he were to make both, he would pass Roy Marble as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

He made the first. The second didn’t touch the net, the rim, or the backboard.

“I never airballed a free throw in my life,” Garza said later. “It was a miracle the first one went in. Neither of them felt good. I was thinking about them a little too much.”

He missed another free throw with 10:11 left, and remained tied with Marble at 2,116 points while his Iowa men’s basketball team was tied with Penn State at 54.

With 8:18 remaining, Garza broke the mark in perhaps the most-fitting way, on a basket in the low post on a feed from Jordan Bohannon, like so many they have hooked up for over the last four seasons. That broke the tie score.

 

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Speaking of appropriate, Garza then went on one of his patented individual scoring runs. He scored 10 straight Hawkeyes points as they opened a 64-56 edge, and the Nittany Lions never caught them.

No. 11 Iowa got its fourth-consecutive win, 74-68, to improve to 17-6 overall, 11-5 in the Big Ten. Garza had a game-high 23 points, and is at 2,226 with more to come.

After breaking the record, “I kind of calmed down,” Garza said.

“In the second half we did a really, really good job of defending and stopping them, and that’s what wins the game.”

The win was the thing, he said. Without that, “it wouldn’t have felt the same. It felt really good to get a win and to continue this win streak, and kind of have that (record) as a special bonus at the end.”

A video of almost five minutes saluting Garza aired on the arena’s big screens after the contest, with several former Hawkeye stars like Reggie Evans, Aaron White, Tyler Cook and Greg Stokes offering congratulations.

 

The public-address announcer noted Garza’s record to the 566 people in the stands during a timeout shortly after it happened, and the player got a few pats on the back in the huddle, but he seemed to want to downplay it and focus on the game.

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With reason, by the way. Earlier, Penn State had erased a 19-6 deficit to take a 41-36 halftime lead in a game that was a lot tougher and less comfortable for the Hawkeyes than their previous three games, all wins by at least 13 points.

Joe Wieskamp, scoreless in the first half with four turnovers, tallied Iowa’s first nine points of the second half. After it was 54-54, the Hawkeyes held Penn State without a point for six minutes, and to 35.5 percent shooting in the game.

“I thought defensively that’s about as well as we can play,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We really locked in on the ball, we were connected, we rebounded.”

Iowa had a 46-35 advantage in rebounds. Garza and Wieskamp had 11 each. Guard CJ Fredrick had 18 points.

“CJ played amazing today and really helped us out,” Garza said, something he has done himself so many times.

“It’s not an individual accomplishment,” he said. “I see it as a team thing.

“I just want to be remembered as a guy who loved the game of basketball, played as hard as he could and worked as hard as he could, and was a great teammate and someone who tried to be a really good leader.”

Those boxes are all checked. So is being No. 1 on the scoring list.

“What an accomplishment,” Fredrick said. “I’m honored to be one of his teammates.”

Comments: (319) 398-8440; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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