By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A big second half lifted the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to its third win of the season Thursday night on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
After leading 39-35 at the break, the Hawkeyes opened the second half on a 15-4 run over the first eight minutes to take control against the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason favorite en route to an 83-68 victory.
Iowa started the half with a CJ Fredrick-to-Joe Wieskamp alley-oop on the first possession before Fredrick followed with five straight to push the lead to 46-37. The Hawkeyes stretched their advantage to 56-39 with a 10-2 spurt, capped by a Jack Nunge 3-pointer with 14:19 left.
The Hawkeyes’ defense buckled down, forcing the Ospreys to miss seven of their first nine shots to start the half and forced three turnovers. Iowa limited UNF to 37.5 percent shooting in the second half.
“We got the dunk to start, that’s always a momentum boost, but it was the consecutive stops and taking it to 17 that changed the complexion of the game,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “A lot of credit goes to those guys.”
Junior Luka Garza notched his second straight double-double, finishing with 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds with five coming on the offensive glass. Wieskamp scored 14 points and had eight rebounds, Nunge had 11 points and seven boards, and freshman Joe Toussaint added 10 points and four assists.
Iowa shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and finished with a 44.4 field goal percentage for the game. The Hawkeyes made just six 3-pointers but had a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint.
The Hawkeyes dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Ospreys, 48-35. Iowa had a +12 advantage in the first half, which included 14 offensive rebounds. The Hawkeyes turned 20 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points for the game.
GARZA CONTINUES TO SCORE
Garza entered the game leading the Big Ten in scoring (21.3 ppg.) and he didn’t slow down. The center scored 18 points in the first half, making 7-of-12 field goals and kept going. He finished with 29 points — one point off his career high he set Nov. 16 in the win over Oral Roberts.
“My teammates are doing a good job of putting me in great positions, I am trying to finish when I get the ball,” said Garza. “I have been doing a decent job, but there are things I can improve on, especially free throw shooting.”
Garza has scored 59 points over his last two games, making him the first Hawkeye with 29+ points in back-to-back games since Matt Gatens in 2011-2012. The double-double was his third of the season and the eighth of his career.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“We battled defensively in the first half, and I have to give credit to North Florida. They shot it well, moved it and competed. We felt we had to establish that we were going to play intense defense and get consecutive stops.”
- Iowa committed just six turnovers in the game and finished with 22 assists on its 32 field goals.
- The Hawkeyes’ reserves had a 24-4 advantage in bench points.
- Sophomore Connor McCaffery had seven assists for a second straight game.
The Hawkeyes return to action Sunday, hosting Cal Poly at 4 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court.