Garza, Cook lead Iowa to fifth-straight win
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa men’s basketball team returned home on Friday night for the first time since last week’s neutral site win over Colorado.
Christmas had come and gone, seven days had past since the exciting game in the Sanford Pentagon, and constant snow kept many fans away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. All of these factors had the potential to contribute to a trap game.
The Hawkeyes didn’t seem to notice.
Iowa made easy work of Northern Illinois and closed non-conference play with a 98-75 rout of the Huskies. The win extended the season’s best winning streak to five.
The Hawkeyes shot 58 percent from the floor, making 36 of their 62 field goal attempts. Most impressively, 34 assists accompanied the 36 made shots.
The 34 assists are a new team record in the Fran McCaffery era, and tied a school record set in 1984 versus George Mason. It’s also the highest assist output for a Big Ten team this season.
Jordan Bohannon led the way with seven assists and Isaiah Moss also dished out five. Ahmad Wagner, Maishe Dailey, and Cordell Pemsl each had four.
The only player who played more than five minutes and didn’t record an assist was Nicholas Baer, which is surprising given Baer’s tendency to stuff the stat sheet.
Out of the gates, Iowa was hot, and clearly not hungover from a long holiday break. Tyler Cook sparked a 13-0 run with a 15-foot jumper, and the Hawkeyes never allowed the game to get close after that.
Cook finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Cook made all three of his attempts from 15 to 18 feet, which is a good sign for the big man moving into conference play. If those shots fall, defenders will be forced to guard him tighter, which could open up driving lanes.
Luka Garza continued to pick on smaller opponents and came off the bench to lead all scores with 25 points. Garza was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 from three-point range. The freshman also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Moss was the only other Hawkeye in double figures, quietly netting 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep.
The ascending Maishe Dailey stayed hot and scored eight points in just 11 minutes before getting fouled and falling hard on his hip and elbow in the second half. Dailey returned to the bench and was cleared to play, but did not return due to the large lead.
Northern Illinois saw four players score in double figures, including one of the MAC’s best scorers in Eugene German. German led the Huskies with 20 points while also posting three rebounds, three assists, and three of the team’s 12 turnovers.
Justin Thomas (16), Gairges Daow (12), and Dante Thorpe (11) were the other Huskies in double digits.
Aside from an 8-0 NIU run near the beginning of the second half, Iowa overpowered the Huskies from start to finish. The Hawkeyes also kept the turnovers to single digits with eight, which was one area that caused them lots of problems during their slow start to the season.
Iowa is rolling into conference play, and the trouncing of Northern Illinois is just another example of how well they are capable of playing when they don’t have self-inflicted wounds. If they keep turnover numbers down and continue to share the wealth, the Hawkeyes could extend the current winning streak into Big Ten play.
Iowa (9-6, 0-2) resumes conference play after the New Year on Tuesday, January 2 when the Hawkeyes host the Michigan Wolverines. Game time is 6:00pm CT on ESPN2.
Michigan (11-3, 1-1) plays Jacksonville (5-10) on Saturday night in Ann Arbor.