No. 5 Iowa hangs on to win rematch against Minnesota
Luka Garza's 33 points, Jordan Bohannon's 14 assists lead way to 86-71 victory
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – This time there was no inexplicable collapse in the final seconds against Minnesota.
There were some tense moments down the stretch as the Gophers sliced a double-digit deficit to five points, but unlike in Minneapolis on Christmas day, Iowa withstood the comeback and prevailed 86-71 on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The victory improved Iowa’s record to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, and it also came barely two weeks after Iowa had failed on Christmas day to protect a seven-point lead with 45 seconds in regulation before losing at Minnesota 102-95 in overtime.
Senior center Luka Garza led three Iowa players in double figures on Sunday with 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the field. Junior Joe Wieskamp scored 20 points, while senior guard Jordan Bohannon made five 3-point baskets and finished with 19 points and a career-high 14 assists and seven rebounds
Iowa assisted on 27 of its 31 baskets and only had 10 turnovers.
Iowa’s bench only contributed nine points, but that was more than enough as Garza, Wieskamp and Bohannon led the way to victory by combining for 72 of Iowa’s 86 points.
Bohannon also helped set the tone on offense by sharing the ball and by getting his teammates, especially Garza, easy looks for baskets.
“We always talk about we’re a team that wants to move the ball, share the ball,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “But it starts with the guy bringing it down and getting that thing moving – throwing it ahead, throwing it inside – and then keep doing it.”
Bohannon fed Garza in the post throughout Sunday’s game, and it often led to easy baskets for Iowa’s All-America senior center.
“I’ve got to give credit to all my guys,” Bohannon said. “If it wasn’t for Luka making his layups I wouldn’t have 14 assists. I think more than 85 percent of my passes that were assists were to him tonight, so I’ve got to give a lot of credit to him knocking down his shots.”
Fran McCaffery tried to downplay the revenge factor when he addressed the media on a Saturday zoom conference. His message seemed to be that every game, regardless of the opponent, or the circumstances, is reason to play hard, and with a purpose.
And while that certainly makes sense, especially from a coach’s standpoint, players think differently.
Without question, the Iowa players wanted revenge or payback or redemption or whatever you want to call getting even for what happened in Minneapolis.
Minnesota is responsible for the lowest point to Iowa’s season so far, and the Iowa players were determined to get satisfaction on Sunday.
And it was mission accomplished, thanks largely to how well Iowa played on both ends of the floor to start the second half.
Perhaps the biggest concern from Iowa’s standpoint at halftime is that Minnesota only trailed by two points (39-37) despite having made just 4-of-17 shots from 3-point range.
The Gophers were wide open on some of their misses from 3-point range, but they just missed.
Minnesota didn’t get as many open looks in the second half, while Iowa had its way on offense as Luka Garza scored 23 points in the second half.
Garza was matched against 7-foot junior and Davenport native Liam Robbins, who transferred from Drake over the summer.
Robbins blocked two of Garza’s shots in the opening minutes, and he made Garza work hard for his points.
But Garza always works hard for his points, and by the time Sunday’s game was over, he had surpassed his nation-leading 27.5 per-game scoring average.
Garza became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer in Big Ten games with Sunday’s 33-point performance. He now has 1,116 points in Big Ten regular-season games, surpassing Roy Marble’s 1,113 points.
Iowa has now won four games in a row since its Christmas day collapse in Minnesota and will face Michigan State in its next game on Thursday.