By JAMES ALLAN
INDIANAPOLIS – Senior Luka Garza scored a game-high 24 points to lead the second-seeded University of Iowa men’s basketball team to an 86-74 victory over 15th-seeded Grand Canyon on Saturday night at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The Hawkeyes advance to the Second Round where they will face seventh-seeded Oregon on Monday. The Ducks game against 10th-seeded VCU was declared a no contest.
Iowa shot 53.7 percent from the floor and made 10 3-pointers in the game. The Antelopes won the rebounding battle, 37-33, which included 18 offensive rebounds.
Garza made 9-of-16 field goals, including four 3-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds to lead the team. Junior Joe Wieskamp scored 16 points and had a game-high eight rebounds, while freshman Keegan Murray and Jordan Bohannon had 13 points apiece.
Iowa’s reserves accounted for 26 points in the contest.
The Hawkeyes scored the game’s first five points and never trailed. Iowa stormed out to an 11-2 behind 3-pointers from Garza and Bohannon over the first 4 ½ minutes.
“Watching all the games yesterday, we learned some lessons from other teams, and in terms of not being able to come out as good as you want to,” said Garza. “We wanted to make sure that we threw the first punch tonight. They’re a good team, and they were able to punch back and they have held their own against a lot of great teams — Colorado, Arizona State, a lot of teams.
“We knew what we were facing, and we knew they weren’t just going to back down, so we had to continue to keep fighting.”
Iowa had a 20-12 lead at the midway point of the first half, but Grand Canyon hung around. The Antelopes pulled to within 27-23 at the 5:53 mark before the Hawkeyes methodically pushed the lead to double digits.
Murray’s second-chance layup pushed Iowa’s lead to 33-24 at the 4:15 mark and the lead went to 11 on a Wieskamp step back 3-pointer with 1:41 left. The Hawkeyes led 42-31 at the break after shooting 55 percent from the field.
Iowa’s lead never got below double digits over the final 20 minutes. The advantage grew to 65-46 with 10:53 left in the game on a Garza layup.
Grand Canyon shot 42.9 percent and went 7-of-26 from 3-point range. Asbjorn Midthaard led Grand Canyon with 18 points and six rebounds.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“(The bench) was tremendous, both on the glass and offensively. We got production from Keegan, from Patrick (McCaffery), from Joe (Toussaint), Tony Perkins and we got effort defensively, we got effort on the glass, and it comes down to getting quality minutes and being able to establish depth to win a game like this against a really good team.”
CURVE BALL FOR ROUND 2
Iowa’s second round foe – Oregon – had its game declared a no contest, meaning the Ducks first game will be Monday against the Hawkeyes.
“With this COVID year, you have to be able to expect the unexpected,” said Garza. “We have seen it all year, conference tournaments, different things like that. This stuff is going to happen. Teams are going to get sick. It’s what happens. You have to be able to adjust, you have to be able to be ready for anything, and I think coach McCaffery has been preaching that all year. For our group, I don’t think this bothers us at all. We’re going to come in locked in and be able to go out there and give our best.”
• Iowa has won an NCAA Tournament game each of its last four tournament appearances.
• Iowa is now 12-0 all-time against current members of the Western Athletic Conference. Tonight marked Iowa’s first game against Grand Canyon.
• The Hawkeyes have won nine of their last 11 games, dating back to Feb. 10.
• Luka Garza moves into seventh place all-time in Big Ten Conference scoring with 2,270 points.
• Luka Garza made four long balls, netting four of more 3-pointers in a game for the fourth time this season.
• Keegan Murray totaled 13 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists and one steal. No Hawkeye has posted that stat line in any NCAA Tournament game.
• Garza scored a game-best 24 points. He has scored 20+ points for an NCAA-best 21st time this season.
• Jordan Bohannon (1,638) surpassed Matt Gatens (1,635) for ninth in Iowa career scoring.
• The 86 points scored by Iowa are the most for the Hawkeyes in an NCAA Tournament game since scoring 98 versus Texas in first round in 1992.
• Joe Wieskamp ended the game with 16+ pts, 8+ rebounds and 5+ assists. The only other Hawkeye to post those numbers in an NCAA Tournament game is James Moses versus Texas in the 1992 Round of 64.
Iowa will face No. 7 seed Oregon in the second round on Monday (time and TV are TBD).