Luka Garza and The 700 (Points) Club

By RossWB on February 21, 2020 at 2:40 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Big Ten opponents aren't the only thing Luka Garza is running roughshod over -- his stellar season to date has also enabled him to mount an incredible attack on Iowa's record books. Perhaps we should have seen this coming back in December when he mounted a serious challenge to one of the most hallowed records in Iowa basketball history -- John Johnson's single-game scoring record of 49 points, set against Northwestern almost exactly 50 years ago (2/24/70). Garza put up 44 points against Michigan, the third-highest single-game point total in Iowa history. 

Garza hasn't scored 44 points in a game since then... but he hasn't exactly slowed down that much, either. In fact, in the 18 Iowa games since his eruption against Michigan, he's scored under 20 points just twice, a 12-point effort against Cincinnati and a 16-point effort against Nebraska. He's currently riding a streak of 12 games with 20 or more points in Big Ten play. When that streak was at just 9 games it was already the longest such streak by a Big Ten player in over 20 years. 

All that scoring is enabling Garza to mount a serious challenge to one of Johnson's other hallowed scoring records: the single-season mark of 699 points. And it's looking pretty good for Garza to get that record. Johnson set the single-season mark back in 1970 and it's been challenged only sporadically since then. One of the strongest challenges came in the very next year, when Fred Brown scored 662 points in 1971. The best challenge since then came from another prolific Iowa scorer, Roy Marble, who went for 675 points in 1989. That capped off a career that saw Marble set Iowa's all-time scoring record (2,116 points). Andre Woolridge came the closest to the record in the 90s, with 645 points in 1997. 

Four players have scored 600 or more in the 21st century, though just two in the Fran Era. Luke Recker scored 600 in 2002 and Adam Haluska bested that with 637 points in 2007. Haluska was also the last Iowa player to average at least 20 points a game, a distinction which is sure to fall to Garza this year (Garza currently averages 23.7 ppg). Jarrod Uthoff had the Fran Era high with 624 points in 2016, but that lasted just one year before he was overtaken by Peter Jok with 636 points in 2017. Luka Garza ripped right by both Uthoff and Jok's totals last night. Garza's 24 points against Ohio State give him 641 for the season, which gives him the 5th highest scoring season in Iowa history. 

RANK POINTS PLAYER AVG YEAR
1 699 John Johnson 27.9 1970
2 675 Roy Marble 20.5 1989
3 662 Fred Brown 27.6 1971
4 645 Andre Woolridge 20.2 1997
5 641 Luka Garza 23.7 2020
6 638 Greg Stokes 19.9 1985
7 637 Adam Haluska 20.5 2007
8 636 Peter Jok 19.9 2017
9 632 Sam Williams 25.3 1968
10 624 Jarrod Uthoff 18.9 2016

Garza needs 59 points to get the record. And he has four regular season games to go, plus at least one Big Ten Tournament game. I don't think it's too much of a stretch at this point to suggest that Iowa will play at least one game after the Big Ten Tournament, too. That gives Garza six games to get the record and 59 points over six games is only 10 points a game. He's scored at least 10 points in every game this year except for a 9-point effort against San Diego State back in November. In fact, if he's able to maintain his current average of almost 24 ppg, Garza should become Iowa's single-season scoring king in Iowa's final home game, against Purdue on March 3. Circle your calendar, folks -- history could be made in a little under two weeks and Luka Garza could become the first member of Iowa's 700 Points Club. 

Garza should pass Woolridge for the 4th best single season scoring effort against Michigan State on Tuesday night and if he maintains his 20-point scoring streak, he could tie or surpass Brown for the 3rd best single season scoring mark in that game, too. Barring a massive game (and, hey, the last time Garza was in the state of Michigan, he did score 44 points, so...), it should take Garza a couple games to catch Marble for #2 on the single season scoring list. And then it's just a matter of running down Johnson. No one's managed to do that yet -- but no one's had a season like Garza is having, either. 

The single-season point total is the big one, of course, but Garza is also closing in on some other single-season records, too. The single-season record for most field goals made is 289, set by John Johnson in 1970. Garza has made 247 field goals this season, so he's 43 back of that mark. Between free throws and three-pointers (and the obvious fact that regular field goals are, you know, worth two points), Garza will break the single-season points record before he has a chance to break the single-season field goals record.

But surpassing 289 made field goals is definitely in play. Garza is averaging around nine made field goals per game; if he maintains that pace and Iowa plays a minimum of six more games, he would get to 301 made field goals this season. There's definitely less wiggle room for this record than the single-season points mark, though; nine field goals per game is a lot and a couple cold shooting performances could really make it difficult for Garza to catch this mark (unless Iowa has a long runs in either the Big Ten Tournament or NCAA Tournament, which we would be happy to see). 

RANK FG MADE PLAYER YEAR
1 289 John Johnson 1970
2 268 Fred Brown 1971
3 262 Greg Stokes 1985
4 254 Scott Thompson 1976
5 250 Ed Horton 1989
6 247 Luka Garza 2020
7 241 Roy Marble 1989
  241 Bruce King 1976
9 219 Greg Stokes 1983
  219 Sam Williams 1968

The record for most field goals attempted is also in play for Garza this year. John Johnson actually doesn't hold that record; he needed just 508 field goals to make his Iowa record 289 field goals (and score an Iowa record 699 points) in 1970. Fred Brown hoisted the most shots in a single season for an Iowa player, with 535 in 1971. Scott Thompson ranks second on that list, with 517 in 1976. Johnson's 508 is third.

Garza has attempted 443 shots so far this season, which doesn't quite crack the Top 10 in field goal attempts yet. But he's close -- the #10 on that list is Peter Jok with 467 attempts in 2017. Garza is averaging 16.4 shots per game this year, so if Iowa plays a minimum of six more games, he's set to take another 98 shots if he maintains his current shot attempts pace. That would give him 541 for the season. 

RANK FG ATT PLAYER YEAR
1 535 Fred Brown 1971
2 517 Scott Thompson 1976
3 508 John Johnson 1970
4 489 Charles Darling 1952
5 487 Jarrod Uthoff 2016
6 479 Greg Stokes 1985
7 477 Bruce King 1976
8 475 Sam Williams 1968
9 472 Andre Woolridge 1997
10 467 Peter Jok 2017

One single-season record Garza won't threaten? John Johnson's single-season scoring average of 27.9 points per game back in 1970. That average is just incredible and speaks to the heightened pace of the game back then (and for that Iowa teams in particular); that Iowa team averaged 98.7 ppg and scored over 100 points in 14 of their 25 games. That was Ralph Miller's final team at Iowa; they could absolutely get buckets. (Remember that those teams were also putting up numbers like that in a pre-3 point shot era, too.)

But Garza is still on pace to post the highest scoring average for an Iowa player since Johnson in 1970 (27.9) and Brown in 1971 (27.6). Just four Iowa players since that duo have finished a season averaging over 20 ppg: Bruce King (21.0 ppg in 1977), Roy Marble (20.5 ppg in 1989), Andre Woolridge (20.2 ppg in 1997), and Adam Haluska (20.5 ppg in 2007). Garza is poised to join that company this season. 

Of course, if Garza does become Iowa's new single-season scoring champion, attention will shift towards another significant scoring record: the career scoring mark of 2,116, held by Roy Marble.

RANK POINTS PLAYER CAREER
1 2,116 Roy Marble 1986-89
2 1,859 Aaron White 2011-15
3 1,779 Acie Earl 1990-93
4 1,768 Greg Stokes 1982-85
5 1,705 B.J. Armstrong 1986-89
6 1,694 Roy Devyn Marble 2011-14
7 1,675 Ronnie Lester 1977-1980
8 1,635 Matt Gatens 2009-12
9 1,611 Jess Settles 1994-97, 1999
10 1,578 Adam Haluska 2005-07

Right now, Garza has 1,460 points. If he maintains his 23.7 ppg scoring average and Iowa plays at least six more games, he could score another 142 points this season; that would give him 1,602 points for his Iowa career, which would be good for 10th most all-time. If that figure held true and Garza returned for his senior season, he would need to score 515 points to become Iowa's all-time leading scorer. That's a lot of points, to be sure, but over a 33-game season (which is about what Iowa has been averaging in terms of games played during Garza's career), he would need to average 15.6 ppg to break Marble's record. That's... plausible?

Granted, there's a lot that would need to happen between now and then for that record to fall -- Garza needs to keep scoring at his current clip for the rest of this season, he would need to come back for a senior season, and he would need to stay healthy though all of this -- so this is a possibility that should just be filed away for a potential discussion in the future. 

But the 700 Point Club is a discussion for the here and now. Garza's incredible season has put him in a place where claiming an impressive piece of Iowa history is well within his grasp. Keep flying, Peacock. The top of the mountain is getting closer and closer. 

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