Iowa Men's Basketball

Luka Garza torches Iowa State in second half, Iowa wins 105-77

Garza has career-high six 3-pointers, scores 34 points

IOWA CITY — Fran McCaffery got red-hot. Then Luka Garza got red-hotter.

Garza put on a 3-point shooting performance against Iowa State Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena you seldom see from a 6-foot-11, 265-pounder. “Seldom” may not be specific enough. “Almost never” may be closer to precise.

Garza splashed in five straight 3-pointers and scored 21 points in the 5:15 immediately after McCaffery woke up his team in the second half in Iowa’s 105-77 win. The senior center had been a portrait in frustration before that, sitting out the last 10:48 of the first half with two fouls and almost five more minutes after getting his third personal with 17:24 left in the game.

After McCaffery aired out his players for allowing a series of barely-contested shots to the Cyclones during a TV timeout with 12:42 left and his team up 68-55, Garza and three other players re-entered the game.

“We started the second half really well.,” McCaffery said. “I think we scored the first seven, maybe the first nine, I can’t remember. But we really came out of the locker room in really good shape and started quick shooting it a little bit. We weren’t getting our defense put together and they were taking it right through us.

“You shouldn’t be able to drive from beyond the top of the key to the basket against the zone and play the ball up. There are certain things that are not going to be tolerated and shouldn’t be tolerated by the coaching staff or the players themselves.”

The message was received. Iowa forced the Cyclones (1-2) into a shot clock violation immediately after the timeout and Garza’s teammates got him the ball where he wanted it, over and over.

“Several guys got hot at different points,” Garza said. “We’re just that kind of team. When we find the hot hand we keep going to it. A lot of guys were great.

“Our guards were so great at finding me in my spots to keep me going.”

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Joe Toussaint was one of those guards he was referencing. The sophomore had a game-high seven assists in just 13 minutes.

Garza hit four 3s in 2:13, scored off a rebound and on a pass to him under the basket, made another 3, then scored off another rebound. It was suddenly 89-64, and Garza was taken out. He had 34 points in 16 minutes and 35 seconds, and a career-high six 3-pointers. It was his third game of at least 34 points in No. 3 Iowa’s five contests, all wins.

After the game, Iowa radio commentator Bob Hansen told Garza his spree was reminiscent of Michael Jordan making six 3-pointers in his 35-point first-half performance during the Chicago Bulls’ Game 1 win over Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals. Hansen was on that Bulls world-championship team.

It was the most points a team has scored in this series’ 74 games, and the largest margin of victory.

Iowa is averaging 99.4 points, Garza 30.4. He was right about a lot of guys being good, especially as he watched so much of them from the bench in the first half.

“I was definitely a little bit frustrated,” Garza said. “Getting ticky-tack fouls is unlike me and was just upsetting.

“I wanted to get out there and kind of let loose. I was able to hit a couple and then I just kind of felt it the rest of the game.”

Fellow 6-11 Hawkeye Jack Nunge helped stake Iowa to a 52-41 halftime lead. Playing center in place of Garza, Nunge had all but two of his 17 points in the first half, and had five offensive rebounds in the half.

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“I’m really proud of the rest of the guys for taking care of business when I was out of the game,” said Garza. “To play only (seven) minutes in the first half and be up 11, I credit the other guys. Jack Nunge was huge tonight. He was killing ‘em.”

“I knew I couldn’t get in foul trouble,” Nunge said. “I also knew I had to step up for our team.

“We’re a deep team and have a lot of guys can score at any moment. I’m really excited to see how far we can go this year.”

It isn’t that the Cyclones were horrible, despite what the score says. They showed a lot of resilience in the game in different spots.

Iowa State was down 11-2 before the crowd would have been settled in its seats, if there were a crowd allowed. But Javan Johnson scored seven straight points for his team to cut ISU’s gap to 15-13.

Less than four minutes later, Iowa led 25-15. This time, the Cyclones not only pulled close, but went ahead 32-29 after a 19-4 run with Garza out. The run was capped by two consecutive 3-pointers by Tyler Harris.

The Hawkeyes hit the gas again, without Garza. CJ Fredrick scored five straight points, and Nunge scored eight of his 15 first-half points after Garza’s second personal. His last two baskets of the half were on lobs from Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery.

Johnson had 20 points for ISU. Seven-foot freshman Xavier Foster of Oskaloosa had eight points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in 14 minutes, and made a pair of 3-pointers.

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Iowa has a quick turnaround. It plays Northern Illinois (0-4) here Sunday at 1 p.m., with the expectation of taking a 6-0 record to Sioux Falls, S.D., next Saturday for its game against No. 1 Gonzaga.

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