By JAMES ALLAN
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota held off a late rally by the No. 19/21 University of Iowa men’s basketball team to hand the Hawkeyes a 92-87 defeat on Sunday night inside Williams Arena.
The Hawkeyes trailed by 16 points (81-65) with 5:50 remaining before sophomore Luka Garza fueled a 13-1 Iowa run, closing the gap to 82-78. Garza started the rally with four points from the free throw line and his 3-pointer with 3:32 left cut the lead to 81-76.
After Jordan Murphy made 1-of-2 free throws, junior Tyler Cook’s hook shot cut Iowa’s deficit to 82-78 with 2:41 to play.
“We fought back,” said junior Isaiah Moss. “Joe (Wieskamp) did a great job at the point of the 12 (in the press). We have to do that the whole 40 minutes of the game.”
Iowa trailed 84-80 with 1:34 left when Cook grabbed a Murphy miss and tried going coast-to-coast, but the forward had the ball knocked away for a turnover. The Hawkeyes had to foul and Minnesota made enough of its free throws, 6-for-8 down the stretch, to win its fifth league game of the season.
Garza led Iowa, tying a career-high with 25 points, making 9-of-13 field goals, including three 3-pointers. Moss finished with 23 points, making 8-of-14 field goals and 6 3s, while junior Tyler Cook finished with 18 points (8-of-14 shooting) and nine rebounds.
The Hawkeyes shot 54.2 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range, but it wasn’t good enough. The Gophers sizzled, shooting 65 percent in the first half, before finishing with a 57.1 percent field goal percentage for the game.
“It wasn’t any problem for our offense,” said Moss. “We had a lot of scorers. It was our defense; we had too many breakdowns. It was helping the helper and stepping over and rotating.”
Minnesota made seven 3-pointers and went 21-of-31 from the free throw stripe; Iowa was 13-of-21.
The Gophers took a 55-46 lead into the locker room before Iowa closed the gap to 57-51 early in the second half. Minnesota followed with a 11-3 run to push its lead to 68-54 at the 14:34 mark and the Gophers withstood a Iowa run midway through the half before extending their advantage to 81-65 with 5:50 left.
Minnesota opened the game on fire, making its first five, 9-of-11, and 12-of-15 field goals to build a 32-26 lead. The Hawkeyes were nearly as good, making 10 of their first 15 shots, and fought back to take a 35-34 lead on a Moss 3-pointer — one of four in the first half.
The Gophers closed the half on a 16-7 run to take a 55-46 lead into the locker room.
Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey led Minnesota, scoring 23 points apiece. Murphy also had 11 rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes. Gopher freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 19 points with three 3-pointers.
FIRST HALF FIRE
The first half was a track meet with Iowa and Minnesota combining for 101 points and shooting a combined 62.9 percent from the floor. The Gophers finished the first 20 minutes with a 65.6 field goal percentage (21-of-32) with five 3-pointers; Iowa shot 60 percent (18-of-30) and went 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“The press was helpful, it got them playing side-to-side. We got some stops and run-out opportunities. We went inside to Luka and Tyler in the post. In the first half we didn’t have much going except for Moss and Baer. We fouled them a few times and they missed a couple. That gives you a chance to change two for zero or three for one. That’s how you get back in it.”
- Sunday was the only regular season meeting between Iowa and Minnesota.
- Luka Garza has scored 20+ points in four straight Big Ten games (Penn State, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota). Garza is the first Hawkeye to accomplish the feat since Aaron White in 2015.
- For the second time in a week, Isaiah Moss made his first five 3-point attempts in a game (Illinois & Minnesota). Moss finished with a career-high six triples and 23 points. Moss has scored 15+ points in all four games played against the Gophers in his career. Moss has scored 20+ points in two of the last three games (Illinois & Minnesota).
- Tyler Cook (18 points) surpassed Bob Hansen and Kevin Kunnert for 30th on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,156 points.
- Six of the last seven meetings between Iowa and Minnesota played in Minneapolis have been decided by six points or fewer.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to action on Friday hosting nationally-ranked Michigan. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game is sold out.