Garza scores career-high in win over Oral Roberts

Despite facing double-teams for most of the night, Luka Garza scored 30 points in Iowa’s second win of the regular season.


Abby Watkins

Iowa center Luka Garza runs after Oral Roberts’ Deondre Burns at the Iowa-Oral Roberts game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 15. The Hawkeyes won, 87-74.

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

DePaul did its best to make Iowa center Luka Garza a non-factor in Monday’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but Oral Roberts had no luck with that strategy Friday night.

Garza erupted for a career-high 30 points on an efficient 12-of-19 shooting in Iowa’s 87-74 win over the Golden Eagles. He was dominant from the jump.

On the Hawkeyes’ second possession of the game, Garza opened up the Iowa scoring, draining a 3 from the top of the arc.

Garza would keep the hot hand until the halftime break, as the junior from Washington D.C. finished his dominant first half of play with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the 3-point line.

The Hawkeye big man put up these numbers despite Oral Roberts attempting to slow him down with a double-team in the post. Garza struggled at times against the double-team in Iowa’s loss to DePaul, but he showed improvement against Oral Roberts on his way to a career night.

“You can’t go right into a move,” Garza said. “That’s what I did a couple of times against DePaul, and they came up behind me. I’d go right into the move to the baseline, trying to spin back, and they’re already there. I think I did a good job with that tonight. When they doubled me, sometimes I just brought it out and threw it to the wing or one of the cutters. Tried to move the ball around a little more.”

Garza surpassed his previous career-high of 25 points, a mark he’d put up on three occasions. He was also dominant on the glass, compiling 10 rebounds — six of them coming on the offensive end.

Garza is in a prime position to continue to see an increase in scoring production this season, a role he is ready for.

“I’ve been a scorer my entire career,” Garza said.” I think I’ve always been ready for that role. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team, whether that’s scoring the ball, rebounding the ball — anything to help the team.”

Facing a double-team is also nothing new for Garza, and with the way he’s playing early in this season, it will be something he continues to be familiar with.

“He’s one of those guys who has been getting doubled his whole life,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s so crafty and quick with those moves, a lot of the times he can get there before the double team does.”

After Iowa’s poor performance against DePaul, the Hawkeyes were determined to get back on track this week during practice.

An emphasis was put on getting out of the double-team and finding the open shooter, which paid off against the Golden Eagles.

“We knew their game plan was going to be to focus on [Garza],” forward Jack Nunge said. “He’s really good at getting out of the double and looking for kick-outs, so they’re going to be late on the rotation, and we knew that. I just want to give credit to the scout team on that. All week, they were just doubling us in the post, and we knew it was coming, so we knew how to combat it.”