By Dylan Burn
IOWA CITY, Iowa – There has been a buzz surrounding Luka Garza and Jack Nunge ever since they signed letters of intent with the Iowa men's basketball team last November.
The buzz intensified as the two 6-foot-11 frontline players performed well over the summer in the Prime Time League and then gained more momentum when Garza dominated during Iowa's four-game European trip in August.
The buzz continued to grow on Friday as both big men nearly recorded double-doubles in their first game inside Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Garza finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Nunge scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds during Iowa's 105-81 exhibition victory over William Jewell College. Nunge was also perfect from the field, hitting all six of his shots, including three from 3-point range.
"They (Garza and Nunge) were phenomenal, but it's not a surprise," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. "They're been great since the minute they got here, they were both great in high school. They both have really mature games, tremendous versatility, they score, rebound, defend, I just couldn't be more proud of those two guys."
Nunge and Garza both showed tremendous poise in Friday's game. They played under control and didn't seem overwhelmed by the circumstances.
"This group has really connected," Garza said. "The first couple of minutes were a little nerve racking, I was maybe thinking a little too much and forcing things, but I settled down, relaxed and trusted all the work that I've done and came back in the second half and was myself."
Garza scored 14 of his points in the second half and made all but one of his eight field-goal attempts while playing ujut 12 minutes.
Nunge also did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 11 of his 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
"We had kind of a slow start, but we got it together, found each other and came together in the second half," Nunge said. "It feels really good to knock down your first shot, then your second, and your third and its really good to start the season like that."
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Freshman guard Connor McCaffery also made his debut on Friday and had no turnovers while playing 18 minutes off the bench. He also scored five points and dished out three assists.
Connor McCaffery was expected to redshirt this season, but that plan is now up in the air since junior guard Christian Williams announced on Thursday that he will transfer from Iowa after the fall semester.
One of the reasons Connor McCaffery, who is Fran McCaffery's son, wanted to redshirt this season was so he could focus on his freshman season with the Iowa baseball team under head coach Rick Heller.
"I'm not sure yet," Connor McCaffery said about redshirting in basketball. "I'm going to sit down and talk to coach Heller and get his thoughts on things and make a decision sometime within the next couple of weeks."
Iowa will play another exhibition game against Belmont-Abbey College next Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena before starting the regular season on Nov. 10 against Chicago State.