In a performance for the ages, Iowa's star center Luka Garza scored 36 points on 11-11 shooting from the field, with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks on top of it.
Then the second half started.
Garza registered quite possibly the best first half in Iowa men's basketball history, single-handedly outscoring Southern (who trailed 58-35 at the break) as the Jaguars refused to double-team Garza and allowed him to set post position at will. It was the most disastrous Southern Strategy since Lee Atwater was stalking Capitol Hill.
After the near-flawless first half, it seemed obvious that the Iowa record (49, John Johnson, in the high-octane Ralph Miller era) was in danger. Alas, Garza only managed five points after halftime, with Southern realizing that PERHAPS he should be guarded more closely than a normal center. Johnson's record stays intact for now, to the chagrin of some recent Hawkeyes.
Garza's final line looks like something out of a video game with the difficulty sliders turned all the way down: 14-15 from the field, 3-3 from deep, 10-12 at the line, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 41 points in 29 minutes. It's clear that Fran McCaffery and his players understand that there'll be times where the opposition just doesn't have an answer for Garza on the floor, and there's nobody in the country better equipped to take advantage of such mismatches as Garzilla.
Oh yeah, other players were on the court too! Quick thoughts:
- Iowa assisted on 27 of its 34 field goals, and the ratio was even closer to 100% until garbage time. A decent portion of that was guys feeding Garza deep in the post (Connor McCaffery in particular is an expert here), but Iowa's dishes to the perimeter were stellar as well. Bohannon led with 7 assists, with 6 from C.J. Fredrick and 5 from Connor McCaffery.
- Joe Wieskamp was 4-6 from three, but just 1-6 on two-pointers, and he played with a level of evident frustration that seems to date back to last season. He was still easily the team's second-highest leading scorer, but something to monitor. With luck he'll be in a flow come Big Ten time.
- Patrick McCaffery, Joe Toussaint and Keegan Murray continue to round out the eight-man rotation, with Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins first off the bench in mop-up time. This tracks; Toussaint is easily the best guard option on the bench, Murray provides size and energy, and McCaffery is the slashing wing this offense needs to hit its final gear. Not bad for a group with one real season of college experience coming into the season.
- Keegan Murray in particular looks like a legit Big Ten player already; he's 6'8", well built and athletic, if not quite the rim-rocker that, say, Tyler Cook was. He does have active hands, can put the ball on the floor and his range is legit. He'd be wise to watch film of Kyle Kuzma at Utah to see how to keep adding productivity to his game; obviously Kuz is in the NBA and Murray's not on that level, but their strengths and weaknesses mirror each other fairly well overall.
- Southern hit a half-court heave at the end of the game, making the final margin 27 points — a margin that may be important to some. Some gamblers, we mean. It's a gambling thing. Iowa was favored by, depending on who you ask, 27 or 27.5 points at tipoff. Don't gamble, folks.
- Patrick McCaffery had another shaky game at the line, going only 1-4. His mechanics and trajectory look like they need serious repair. How is a coach's son bad at free throws??
A fine win, a no-doubter from the opening tip, a reminder to the rest of the world that Luka Garza is a bad man, and a great way to cap a day that started with a win over Nebraska. Can't get much better than that.
GO IOWA AWESOME.