Iowa Men's Basketball

Northwestern Coach Chris Collins on Iowa's Luka Garza: 'He just plays and plays and plays'

Iowa center played limited minutes Tuesday and still put in 27 points

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) gestures after seeing a teammate make a 3-pointer during the second half of the Hawkeyes' 75-62 w
Iowa's Luka Garza (55) gestures after seeing a teammate make a 3-pointer during the second half of the Hawkeyes' 75-62 win at Northwestern Tuesday night at Evanston, Ill. (David Banks/Associated Press)

EVANSTON, Ill. — Luka Garza went over 25 minutes without scoring during Iowa’s 75-62 men’s basketball victory at Northwestern Tuesday.

He finished with 27 points as the Hawkeyes improved to 3-3 in the Big Ten and 12-5 overall.

Garza had 10 points in the first four minutes, and didn’t score again in the first half. He got his second foul with 3:26 left in the half, and was taken out of the game. His third foul came 22 seconds into the second half, and he sat another 7:53.

Then he scored 17 points in the final 11:06.

Garza is averaging 27.2 points in six conference games. Six games is a sample size. Twenty-seven points per game is quite a sample.

“He’s just such a relentless player,” Northwestern Coach Chris Collins said. “I admire how he plays. He’s just a relentless competitor. He just plays and plays and plays.

“When you get a little tired, that’s when he really kicks in. He’s arguably been the best player in the conference to this point, and rightfully so.”

Senior guard Bakari Evelyn had a terrific game for Iowa, getting eight points and a game-high seven assists in 28 minutes.

Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint got off to a shaky start, like he did against Cincinnati last Dec. 21 in his first career start. So like he did in that Cincinnati game, Eveyln picked up the slack and had a nice game. He got a few of his assists on savvy inbound passes.

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“He’s a fifth-year guy,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s really good. He’s a really good player.

“He can handle it, he can shoot it, he can drive it, he makes decisions. He plays three positions. He’s really smart.”

Evelyn is a graduate transfer from Valparaiso.

“You look at him and say he’s an athlete, he’s quick. But he’s incredibly cerebral. To be able to effectively play the positions he’s played and do the things we’ve asked him to is a credit to who he is. We’re really fortunate to have him, especially this year when we’ve had so much injury. You can just plug him in anywhere.”

• Junior forward Cordell Pemsl didn’t score Tuesday, but helped his team plenty when Garza had to sit out. Pemsl had his second-straight four-assist game.

“I think I have good court-awareness,” Pemsl said after Iowa’s home win over Maryland last Friday. “I always love finding my teammates. When I see that extra guy I love making that open pass. I love being able to see my guys get buckets, get in their rhythm. Any chance I can get Weezy (Joe Wieskamp) going, I want to do that.

“I just feel like I’m a guy who can get guys involved, can score the ball as well, rebound, play defense. I just kind of want to be able to do it all for this team.”

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

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