A few quick thoughts after No. 18 Iowa’s 72-65 win against No. 19 Illinois in front of a sold-out crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena...
Illinois came into the game on a seven game win streak, and gave the Hawks everything they could for 36 minutes, but an 11-0 run in the closing minutes of the game sealed the deal, and was capped off by a Luka Garza 3 and a Joe Wieskamp fast-break slam.
, Garza, Wieskamp and CJ Frederick combined for 61 of Iowa’s 72 points. Garza’s full stat line: 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 assist, block and steal. Wieskamp and Frederick both tallied 18, and Connor McCaffery hit three shots from deep for 9 points.
- It was a back and forth first half, with neither team really able to settle into offensive flow, with Garza not scoring his first points for most of the first half after being relentlessly doubled teamed underneath the basket. Illinois went on a 4 minute, 8-0 run that got them up to a 13-10 lead, before a CJ Frederick reverse layup and Connor McCaffery’s second 3-pointer of the game tied things up at 15.
- Garza, being held scoreless, sat for a good chunk in the middle of the first half, forcing a leinupe of McCaffery, Evelyn, Kriener, Pemsl and Frederick to weather the Illini run. But after tying the game, Illinois ripped off another 8-0 run to go up 23-15, with Garza still being held scoreless until 4:53 remained in the half. But once he got going, he got going, including hitting two threes and leading Iowa on a 13-2 scoring run to take back the lead, but Illinois had a 31-30 lead going into halftime.
- Despite not scoring for over 15 minutes, Garza finished the first half with 11 points, and ended the game with 25.
- This is a good Illinois squad. They had a smart gameplan for Garza, play stout defense and pass really well, which creates opportunities to score from outside the arc and below the basket. Brad Underwood has his program moving in the right direction.
- CJ Frederick is becoming a legitimate threat at all times from beyond the arc. He has RANGE, but also has the ability to shoot from midrange. He also makes the Hawks a much better passing team. Imagining him playing alongside Bohannon next season is extremely exciting.
- One of the biggest things in previous years would keep Garza from being successful in today’s NBA was his lack of outside shooting. He clearly heard that from scouts, too, and his work on it has paid off. Garza is becoming a legitimate threat from deep (he hit 4 shots from deep today alone) and that has to be frustrating for opposing defenses.
- The Illinois bench outscored Iowa, 29-0. Wow. Whatever works, I guess?
- The second half was a tense, back-and-forth affair. Neither team could separate from the other for long — anytime one team went on a run, the other responded. Despite the physical nature of the game, it felt like the teams traded baskets for most of the game’s final minutes.
- Connor McCaffery had a really nice game, hitting 3 three-pointers, including one to go up 64-62 with 3:15 left, moments after throwing up one of the biggest bricks I’ve ever seen. It was followed by a clutch elbow jumper from Frederick to put the Hawks up 4 as the clock ticked under 2 minutes remaining.
- Illinois, after having responded to every surge by Iowa thus far, suddenly faded away, missing every attempt to cut into the four point lead, before Garza sealed the deal with his 4th make from deep. Hello, nail in the coffin. PAPA GARZA WAS AMPED.
- This is a really good win for the Hawkeyes, especially in response to a double-digit road loss Friday night. Up next the Hawks head to West Lafayette for a Wednesday night matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers.