By Patrick Vint on March 20, 2021 at 8:24 pm
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© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

You can add "two seven-footers" to the list of things that aren't enough to stop Luka Garza.  The presumed Naismith Award Winner and unanimous All-American scored 24 and hauled in a half-dozen boards as the Iowa Hawkeyes buried the Grand Canyon 86-74 Saturday night. Joe Wieskamp added 16 points and team highs in rebounds (8) and assists (5), while Jordan Bohannon scored 13 on 3/5 three-point shooting.  Keegan Murray had himself one heck of an NCAA Tournament debut, with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 3 assists and a steal.

Iowa jumped out to an 11-2 lead early and never trailed.  Joe Wieskamp made a three-point jumper with just over a minute left before halftime to give the Hawks a double-digit lead, a lead they would never relinquish.  Iowa eventually built the margin to as high as 19 in the second half, and glided to a comfortable victory (though they did not beat the spread).

Grand Canyon's frontcourt was as advertised, with their three big men combining for 46 of the Lopes' 74 points and hauling in a staggering 18 offensive rebounds on 40 misses.  If GCU had any sort of consistent outside shooting (they went 7/26 from three), they could have made this a game.  Point guard Jovan Blacksher put up 15 points and 7 assists.  The other five perimeter players in Grand Canyon's rotation scored just 15 points combined and went 6/24 from the field.  Not even dominance on the offensive glass was enough to overcome that lack of production.

Iowa moves on to face the Oregon Ducks, who advanced to the second round when their opponent, VCU, was declared unable to compete due to positive Covid tests.  Because this is, above all, a television show, tip time for that game has not yet been announced.  A win would mean Iowa's first trip to the second weekend of the tournament in more than twenty years.  It's the most important game of Fran McCaffery's tenure.  We'll get there tomorrow.  For tonight, we're still dancing.

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