Classy History: The Hawkeyes at the RAC and the Numbers Behind Luka Garza's B1G Point Streak

By ClassyHawkeye on January 2, 2021 at 9:30 am
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's matchup between #10 Iowa and #14 Rutgers will be the most important meeting between the schools since the Hawkeyes' 87-73 victory over the Scarlet Knights in the first round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament. It will also be Iowa's fifth-ever trip to Rutgers and its first since 2019. This will be the third time the Hawkeyes are ranked when playing in Pisctatway, NJ and they’re 3-1 all-time in games played at the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center).

1/21/16: #9 Iowa 90, Rutgers 76

The only other time a top-ten Hawkeyes squad traveled to Rutgers, three different Iowa starters scored 20+ points in a blowout win. Peter Jok (29), Jarrod Uthoff (20), and Anthony Clemens (20) combined for 69 of the Hawkeyes’ 90 points while Adam Woodbury posted a double-double on the back of 12 points and 11 rebounds. The lone starter without a point, Mike Gesell, shot 0-5 from the field but made up for it with nine assists, three rebounds, and a steal.

Mike Williams led the way with 17 points and four rebounds and Corey Sanders added 12 points, nine assists and four rebounds for a Rutgers squad on its way to a seventh-straight loss as part of a 17-game (!!) losing streak through early March. The Scarlet Knights would finish 7-25 (1-17 B1G) on the season, good for dead last in the conference in what would be Eddie Jordan’s last campaign as head coach.

1/31/17: Iowa 83, Rutgers 63

A trip to Piscataway provided Iowa’s largest Big Ten victory during its topsy-turvy 2016-17 campaign. Missing Jok, their lone upperclassman starter, the young Hawkeyes made 11 threes, shot 50% from the field and turned Rutgers over 17 times in the 20-point romp.

Four freshmen and a sophomore led the way for Iowa: Jordan Bohannon outscored everyone with 17 points (5-7 from long-range) and four assists, while Isaiah Moss, Tyler Cook, and Ahmad Wagner combined for 30 points, eight rebounds, seven steals, and six assists. The unsung hero of the day, however, was sixth-man Cordell Pemsl whose 15 points, seven rebounds, and two steals off the bench spurred on what truly was a complete team effort.

For the Scarlet Knights, neither DeShawn Freeman’s double-double (17 points and 13 rebounds) nor Mike Williams’ 16 points, nine rebound performance could overcome the team’s 25-64 (39.1%) field-goal shooting performance—only four of which were three-pointers. No other Rutgers player added more than eight points on the night, and the Scarlet Knights would win only three more contests the rest of the season.

1/17/18: Rutgers 80, Iowa 64

In true 2017-18 Hawkeyes fashion, Iowa’s lone meeting with Rutgers was a mess. Bohannon’s 23 points along with a double-double by Cook (10 points and 10 rebounds) were the lone bright-spots for a squad that shot just 24-61 (39.3%) from the field and committed 17 turnovers in a 16-point loss that, outside of the first few minutes, was never close.

Four different Scarlet Knight starters scored 14+ points with Corey Sanders and Geo Baker torching the Hawkeyes with 35 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and six steals combined. The victory was Rutgers’ lone win in a 10-game stretch from early January through mid-February, and just one of three conference victories for the Scarlet Knights on the entire season.

For Iowa, the loss was just one more pile of dirt to throw on a lost 2017-18 season that had died long before the trip to New Jersey. One interesting nugget from this affair is a look at then-freshman Luka Garza’s stat-line. The future Big Ten Player of the Year shot just 3-9 from the field, posted eight points and eight rebounds, all while committing two turnovers. It’s incredible to think that just a little over two years later he would be named the best player in the conference, and that headlines such as this would be written this week.

2/16/19: #21 Iowa 71, Rutgers 69

Unlike the aforementioned matchups, Iowa's trip to the RAC in 2019 was one of the most back-and-forth, dramatic affairs in recent memory culminating with a memorable finish that will go down in Hawkeye lore.

For 39+ minutes, Iowa and Rutgers traded blows with neither team able to build more than a six-point lead. Bohannon, who led the Hawkeyes with 18 points and five assists, used a pair of free-throws to give Iowa a 66-63 lead with 2:46 remaining. The lead nearly held up until Baker's friendly-rim three with :03.3 seemingly sent the Scarlet Knights to a 69-68 victory. 


Following an Iowa timeout, Connor McCaffery channeled his inner-Grant Hill, throwing a baseball pass the length of the court that was deflected by a defender before Joe Wieskamp corralled the ball in front of the Hawkeyes' bench. The freshman calmly turned and lofted a corner-three attempt that grazed off the high-corner glass and somehow hit nothing but net, giving Iowa an incredible 71-69 win.

The videos, tweets, and reactions to Wieskamp's shot were beautifully plentiful:

Of note, just six days prior to Iowa's miracle win at Rutgers, Bohannon went Super Saiyan in the final minutes against Northwestern, hitting a three with 0.6 left in a miraculous win. So at least the Scarlet Knights had some company in their misery:

In three seasons, Wieskamp has put together a very good career in Iowa City. He is, in this writer's opinion, the Iowa player with the highest NBA-upside on the current roster and hopefully even bigger things are to come in the future for the junior.

But no matter what he does over the rest of his career, Wieskamp will mostly be remembered in Iowa City for his buzzer-beating shot against Rutgers. And what a beautiful shot it was.


Lucky to have Luka

Garza's Streak At A Glance
Date Opponent Points
1/10/20 vs. maryland 21
1/14/20 at N'western 27
1/17/20 vs. michigan 33
1/22/20 vs. Rutgers 28
1/27/20 vs. wisconsin 21
1/30/20 AT MARYLAND 21
2/2/20 VS. ILLINOIS 25
2/5/20 AT PURDUE 26
2/8/20 VS. NEBRASKA 22
2/13/20 AT INDIANA 38
2/16/20 AT MINNESOTA 24
2/20/20 VS. OHIO ST. 24
2/25/20 AT MICH. ST. 20 
2/29/20 VS. PENN ST. 25
3/3/20 VS. PURDUE 26
3/8/20 AT ILLINOIS 28
12/22/20 VS. PURDUE 22
12/25/20 AT MINNESOTA 32

Luka Garza posted 18 points, and six rebounds in Iowa’s 87-72 victory over Northwestern Tuesday. Though the Hawkeyes won, the reigning B1G POY saw his absurd 18-game streak of scoring 20+ against conference opponents come to an end. Prior to Tuesday, the last time Garza was held under 20 points was when he scored 16 in Iowa’s 76-70 loss at Nebraska last January. 

Throughout the steak, Garza’s highest point total was a 38-point effort in an 89-77 loss to Indiana. In fact, the three times the senior big-man scored 30+ points during the streak, the Hawkeyes went just 1-2. He scored exactly 20 points just once—in Iowa’s 78-70 loss at Michigan State last February. In his 18-game tear, Garza averaged 25.7 points per game and the Hawkeyes went 11-7 overall.

The home/away splits of Garza's streak are fascinating: The senior averaged 24.7 points per game at home (10 games) and 27 per game on the road (8 games). In those games, however, Iowa went 9-1 at home but just 2-6 away from Iowa City.

Garza's streak also helped the Hawkeyes beat 11 of the other 13 Big Ten teams, the exceptions being Indiana and Michigan State who, ironically, he scored his most and least totals against throughout the streak.

But, as with all good things, the streak has come to an end. Iowa has 17 games left in the regular season, starting with Saturday's tip against Rutgers. So even if Garza can score 20+ points in every game the rest of the way (totally possible btw) he will still fall short of matching the streak that just ended.

Take all of this as just another reminder to soak up every single minute Luka Garza wears a Hawkeyes uniform. The Iowa program hasn't seen anyone quite like him before and it may be a long time before we have the joy of watching a men's basketball player come close to pulling off incredible feats such as this again.


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