Garza puts up big numbers against Michigan for second time

Iowa’s Luka Garza dropped 33 points against Michigan on Friday. While it wasn’t as much as the 44 he had in the teams’ previous game, this one came with a win.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa forward Luka Garza celebrates a 3-pointer during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 90-83. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

When Luka Garza sees the Maize and Blue of Michigan, he turns into a monster.

Not that he isn’t a monster in most other games, but there’s something about the Wolverines where Garza happens to play his best.

When the two teams played for the first time on Dec. 6, Garza scored 44 points, but Iowa lost 103-91 in Ann Arbor.

On Friday, Garza dropped 33 en route to a 90-83 victory over the Wolverines in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

He’ll take Friday’s performance if given the choice. The win made all the difference.

“I feel a million times better now than I did then,” Garza said. “I scored a lot [the first time], but after that game I wasn’t really happy with myself. There was a lot of things I could’ve done better in that game… The stats don’t mean that much if there’s not another [win] on the left side of the column.”

With his performance, Garza became the only Division I player with multiple 30-point games against the same opponent this season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. His 77 points against the Wolverines are also the most by any Big Ten player against a single opponent in conference play over the past 20 seasons.

“He’s proven that he’s one of the best college basketball players in the country,” Michigan head coach Juwan Howard said. “I didn’t know Garza last season, nor did I know him on the AAU circuit… What I’ve witnessed thus far, the guy’s a player, and all the work that he’s put in is definitely paying off.”

To Garza, that comment meant a lot coming from someone who has achieved legendary status in college basketball and has won two NBA titles.

“That means the world,” Garza said. “You grow up watching guys like that. He’s the type of player who inspired me just in terms of his dominance at all levels at Michigan and in the NBA.“

Michigan played an aggressive defense on Garza, and that led to the junior from Washington D.C. dishing out a good chunk of his damage from the free-throw line.

Garza finished 11-of-13 from the charity stripe — more makes than the Wolverines’ five attempts.

The bodies — and 12 fouls — Michigan threw at Garza didn’t stop him.

“My body feels like it was a lot more than 12 fouls,” Garza said. “They wanted to play that way, and it was smart. They tried to toughen me up, rough me up, make it hard for me, make me earn my points, which they did.”

Along with Garza’s stellar performance, another big man put up solid numbers in the win: Ryan Kriener.

Kriener finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and scored 11 in his first four minutes on the floor.

Garza and Kriener have gone toe-to-toe with each other in practice for three years now. The benefits showed on Friday.

“It’s not just battling with someone who’s good — it’s battling against someone who’s good and knows all your moves,” Kriener said. “You have to work on counters. You have to work on scoring over him. You have to work on going quick, being patient, using a counter move. You have to just be really smart. You know when to go, know when to be patient, know when to kick it.”