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Iowa 85, Ohio State 76: Good as Garza

Iowa on a HEATER

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Bakari Evelyn, Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp and Ryan Kriener all scored double digits en route to an 85-76 win over No. 25 Ohio State in Iowa City.

The first half featured some of the most tenacious defense I can ever remember seeing from a Fran McCaffery-coached squad. The Hawkeyes forced bad shots and stripped it away six times from the Buckeyes in the first 20 minutes, helping pave the way to a 27-8 lead halfway through the first frame.

This one started off HOT thanks to a long three from Connor McCaffery 90 seconds in. Joe Toussaint followed that up with a rare three, and deep balls were dropping relatively well for the good guys in the first half, with Iowa going into the break at a 6-14 clip. Six of Garza’s 17 first-half points came from range, while Ohio State shot an abysmal 3-13 thanks to that clamping Iowa D.

Toussaint was off to perhaps his best start of the year, following up his made three with a steal on the other end, then capping off an and-1 later. Two early fouls sent him to the bench, and Bakari Evelyn saw some significant tick in his place. The grad transfer added 5 points and 3 assists to keep beating the drum early on.

Ohio State would close the gap to 9 points in the final minutes, but 3’s from Garza and Joe Wieskamp made it 46-35 at the break, right after it looked like the Wesson brothers were going to carry an 8-0 run into the locker room.

The second half got tenuous as Kaleb Wesson closed it back to single-digits after an easy lay-in. He was then blown for his third foul on a Garza put-in. Evelyn, Pemsl and Kriener then combined for 10 straight points and shut the door on Brutus.

Evelyn had probably his best game in a Hawkeye jersey, tying a career-high 15 points (3-5 from deep) and adding 3 assists. Pemsl was great for his second straight game, netting 9 and pulling down 8 while going 4-4 from the field. These were important outings for a game that saw CJ Fredrick on the bench in street clothes, giving the coaching staff a chance to tinker with lineups as late-season (and postseason) stresses wear on.

Iowa was pretty sexy all night long when it put shots up, finishing at a FG clip of 55% and going 40% from deep. Early in the game, the Hawkeyes were 12-18 from the floor.

The rest of the contest featured Garza’s 12th-straight outing of 20+ points (he ended with 24 on 9-15 shooting, 6 boards and a career-high 4 assists; he also went 2-7 from three).

Ohio State made it close-ish near the conclusion, but had some head-scratching coaching decisions when it came to fouls. The win gives Iowa its one millionth Q1 victory on the year, and sets the Hawks up nicely for a road trip to East Lansing on Tuesday.

  • This game was especially huge for Garza’s NPOY campaign because it was ESPN.
  • Both the Wesson brothers fouled out, LOL.
  • Tonight’s win was Iowa’s sixth over a nationally-ranked opponent, its most in a single-season since 2006 (8).
  • Garza surpassed five former players on Iowa’s single-season scoring chart for fifth place (Jarrod Uthoff, Sam Williams, Peter Jok, Adam Haluska, Greg Stokes).
  • I was pretty surprised to see four Buckeyes in the double-digits in the box score at the end of the game. EJ Liddell is the only Ohio State player who seemed to cause any real trouble for Iowa, and I’d be willing to bet a chunk of Kaleb Wesson’s 10 points came while Garza was on the bench.
  • I just want to give a huge credit to Iowa for not wilting in a way we’ve seen them do countless times in the past. Low turnovers (just 10 to OSU’s 14) relatively sound D and poor shooting at the line (17-25) made for a relatively uncharacteristic Iowa game, but this year’s team just hits different.
  • I also want to give credit to Wieskamp. He looked kind hobbled in the first half, and would’ve ended the frame with just 2 points if not for the late 3. He ended the game with 13, while pulling down 4 boards and playing a team-high 37 minutes.