By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Something about Michigan’s defense seems to bring out the best in Iowa junior center Luka Garza.
Or maybe it’s the maize and blue from Michigan’s uniforms.
Or maybe what Garza did against the Wolverines on Friday is just getting to be routine, because for the second game in a row, the Big Ten’s scoring leader stuffed the stat sheet against Michigan with 33 points, only this time it came during a 90-83 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Michigan defeated Iowa 103-91 on Dec. 6 in Ann Arbor, Mich., despite Garza having scored a career-high 44 points in that game.
Garza was asked after Friday's game what is it about Michigan that brings out his best.
"I think every game I attack it with the same mentality," Garza said. "I was just reading and attacking this entire game and seeing how they were playing me."
Garza was hardly a solo act on Friday, though, as Iowa had four players who scored in double figures, including senior forward Ryan Kriener, who came off the bench to score 14 points, including 11 in the first half.
Kriener also made one of the biggest baskets in the game, a 3-pointer that expanded Iowa’s lead to 83-79 with 3 minutes left to play.
"I thought Kriener's three might have been the biggest shot of the game," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
Kriener joked with reporters after the game that he felt like Garza during his first-half scoring flurry.
"That was pretty awesome," Kriener said. "I was kind of joking in the locker room after the game that I felt like Luka I thought I was going to get 40."
Sophomore Joe Wieskamp finished with 20 points and also made three free throws in the final minute to help secure the victory.
Iowa improved to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten, while Michigan fell to 11-6 and 2-4 under first-year head coach Juwan Howard.
Howard was not pleased with the foul differential that led to Iowa making 27-of-30 free throws, while Michigan was just 4-of-5 from the free throw line. His frustration finally led to a technical foul being called on the Michigan bench in the second half.
'It is very frustrating," Howard said. "That was a big reason I got a tech because I was very upset."
Garza made back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer that trimmed the deficit to 74-73, and then freshman guard C.J. Fredrick made a 3-point basket to give Iowa a 76-74 lead with 5:24 left to play.
Fredrick finished with 21 points in his second game back from a stress reaction in his left foot. He also made some big baskets down the stretch after Michigan had taken the lead, thanks to a 14-2 scoring run.
"He has been a gamer like that his whole life," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Fredrick. "This is what he does,"
Sophomore guard Connor McCaffery also had a significant impact without even scoring a single point.The son of Fran McCaffery led Iowa with 13 rebounds and also had five assists and one steal.
"He helps us in so many different ways," Fran McCaffery said of his son. "He played point guard coming down the stretch. Started at the 4 spot; played some 2. Was all over the glass obviously and fed the post and moved the ball to CJ, to Wiesy. When they're open, he'll find you."
After a first half in which Iowa led by as many as 11 points, the second half was closer throughout, and more emotional.
Michigan center Jon Teske was called for a technical foul with 15:26 left in the second half, and with Iowa leading 55-52.
Teske was upset after being called for a foul against Garza. It was Teske’s third foul of the game
Wieskamp made both free throws from the technical and Garza made one of two free throws from the foul on Teske to give Iowa a 58-52 lead.
Connor McCaffery drove in the lane and tried to make a one-handed dunk, but the ball bounced high off the rim and Michigan got the rebound and quickly converted on offense as Franz Wagner made a 3-point basket to expand the lead to 69-63 with 10:33 remaining.
There still was a decent crowd for Friday's game despite the poor weather conditions, and despite the 8 p.m. start. And the fans made a difference, especially down the stretch and as Iowa battled back to take the lead before hanging on to win.
Iowa improved to 8-1 at home this season.
"The reality is you want to play home games if you can," Fran McCaffery said. "You want to have that atmosphere. This team has I think really excited our fan base. They responded to them. Hopefully that will continue on Wednesday.
Iowa will face Rutgers at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It will be the only time the two teams face each other during the regular season.
Michigan bolted to leads of 11-4 and 16-9, but then Kriener made back-to-back baskets and Garza followed with another basket, trimming the deficit to 16-15 with less than 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
Freshman guard C.J. Fredrick then drew a two-shot shooting foul with 11:10 remaining in the first half and made both attempts to give Iowa at 17-16 lead.
Kriener then made a basket off the glass as the scoring run grew to 10-0.
Michigan finally stopped the run with a basket, but Kriener answered right back with an old-fashioned 3-point play with 9:53 left in the first half.
Kriener made another basket to give Iowa a 24-18 lead, and then Wieskamp made a 3-pointer to expand the lead 27-18 with 9:07 left before halftime.
Wieskamp made two more 3-point baskets on back-to-back possessions, the second of which expanded Iowa’s lead to 33-22 with less than eight minutes before halftime.
Michigan had trimmed the deficit to 35-29 when Garza made an old-fashioned 3-point play with 5:57 left in the first half.
He also made two free throws after Michigan had cut the deficit to 40-35 with 3:42 left in the first half after.
Michigan had cut the deficit to 44-41 when Fredrick made a 3-pointer with about 24 seconds left in the first half.
Michigan guard David DeJulius capped a wild first half for both teams on offense as he made a basket in the lane right before the halftime buzzer, cutting Iowa’s lead to 47-43 at the break.
Iowa made all 12 of its free throw attempts in the first half, and was 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 15-of-29 from the field overall in the first half.
Michigan, on the other hand, only made 5-of-17 attempts from 3-point range in the first half, and was just 2-for-2 from the free throw line as Iowa was called for just four fouls.
Michigan all-Big Ten point guard Xavier Simpson played less than nine minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. He only finished with seven points overall.
And while Howard wasn't happy with how the fouls were called, he did have high praise for Garza.
"He's proving that he's one of the best college basketball players in the country," said Howard, who was a member of Michigan's Fab Five in the early 1990s.