Bohannon, Garza get double-doubles, Iowa gets important victory
IOWA CITY, Iowa – You probably don’t need to be reminded of Saturday’s atrocious, one-sided loss to Purdue, but I’m going to remind you anyway.
It was awful. The Hawkeyes lacked energy, and a game intended to be fun looked like it was anything but. The difficult season was just piling it on in a cruel manner.
Many teams might struggle to get the competitive engine restarted, but the Hawkeyes aren’t like those teams.
I’ve said this a lot recently, too, and I won’t stop until it stops being true: These Hawkeyes don’t quit.
These Hawkeyes came out loose on Tuesday night, and they had plenty of fun en route to an 85-67 victory over Wisconsin. They took a quick 9-0 lead and never trailed in the game.
They could have thrown in the towel after Purdue. But of course, they didn’t.
Iowa totally flipped the script it had been following in recent Big Ten games. At one point in each of the last seven conference games, Iowa trailed by 17 points or more.
The Hawkeyes also hadn’t led a conference game at halftime until Tuesday night.
They also hadn’t won a conference game in regulation, their only win being in overtime at Illinois.
Tuesday was a breath of fresh air, if you couldn’t tell.
Iowa led by double digits for most of the game, and no one really seemed to take over. It was a collective effort as every Hawkeye who touched the floor scored. Four players reached double figures, none before the second half.
Tyler Cook and Luka Garza led the Hawkeyes with 17 points each, using their size advantage. Iowa scored 44 points in the paint and out rebounded the Badgers 31-22.
Garza recorded a double-double with 16 rebounds to accompany his 17 points. The freshman played his most complete game of the year by far.
He made an even bigger impact on the defensive end, where Fran McCaffery trusted him to guard Ethan Happ, a reigning All-American and 1st Team Big Ten selection.
“I thought Luka was great. Happ’s an All-American, Luka’s a freshman,” McCaffery said. “I think he really studied him this week and moved his feet.”
Happ had just four points at halftime, a result of Garza’s tough-nosed post defense. The freshman never gave ground and moved quick enough to alter shots, or to prevent them altogether by forcing Happ to pass.
“Happ’s as good as it gets in creating his own angle,” McCaffery said. “I thought Luka slid his feet well and made it tough for him.”
Happ is tough to guard, and the Milan, Illinois native would eventually find a way to get points on the board. Happ finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but most of his production came when guarded by someone other than Garza.
Jordan Bohannon also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists. Bohannon now has five career games with 10 or more assists, tied for second in program history.
Really, for the first time in a long time, the Hawkeyes looked like they were having fun with the game. Garza’s tongue came out once or twice. Cook and Pemsl shared a couple laughs. And of course, they played from ahead. Basketball is more fun when you’re playing well.
“(If) you want to win in this league, this is how you have to play,” McCaffery said. “If you play this way you have a chance to win. If you don’t you’re going to get beat.”
Iowa (11-11, 2-7 Big Ten) plays next on Saturday when they visit the Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-8, 5-4 Big Ten) at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff is 7:00pm CST.
On Wednesday night, the Cornhuskers tipoff at 6:00pm CST at Rutgers. The game is on Big Ten Network.