We all know Luka Garza is great. That has become abundantly clear with each passing game this season. Tonight, in the final home game of the season, he goes into the record books with the single greatest season in Iowa basketball history scoring the ball.
With 26 points in Iowa’s 77-68 loss to Purdue Tuesday, Garza passed Hawkeye great John Johnson for the single season record. Garza broke the record on a pie of free throws midway through the second half.
In an incredible 1969-1970 season, Johnson averaged 27.9 points per game to finish with 699 points for the year. Johnson also set the single game scoring record that year with a 49 point outburst against Northwestern on February 24, 1970. During that record-setting season, Johnson shot an impressive 57% from the field.
In this national player of the year-caliber season, Garza has averaged 23.7 points per game while shooting 53% from the field. It is worth noting Johnson played before the implementation of the 3-point shot. Garza is shooting 59% from inside the arc this year.
What’s been most impressive for Garza, however, is how he has elevated his game with the competition. In Big Ten play, Garza is averaging 26.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Those numbers are even more impressive against top-25 competition, where the DC-native is averaging an absurd 26.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
"I believe Luka Garza is the (National) Player of the Year. The consistency of productivity, considering the quality of teams in our league and the quality of big guy that he's doing it again, I think, is what separates him." - Coach Fran McCaffery #VoteGarza pic.twitter.com/Z1Jix9IA7W— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) March 2, 2020
As impressive as this season has been, Garza’s career as a whole may be even more so. If he opts to return for a senior season with the Hawkeye, Luka is almost certain to leave Iowa City as the program’s all-time leader in scoring.
Roy Marble, Sr. currently holds the title with 2,116 points over his career, averaging 15.8 points per game over the 1986-89 seasons. Garza has averaged 16 points per game over his career thanks to 12.1 and 13.1 ppg averages in his first two years in Iowa City. Now, with this incredible season, Garza has amassed 1531 career points. Thus, in a potential senior season he would need to score fewer than 600 points - a paltry sum given his exploits this season.
Garza would also be within striking distance of the career rebound record if he were to return. With 640 career rebounds thus far and at least three more games in the season (Illinois, BTT and NCAA Tournament), Luka should need around 300 rebounds in his fourth year to surpass Greg Brunner’s career record of 990 boards.
Put simply, Luka Garza is having one of the greatest seasons in Iowa basketball history. He has already put his name among the Hawkeye greats. If he returns for a senior season, there’s little doubt he’ll leave as the greatest Hawkeyes to ever play.
Congratulations to Luka Garza on a tremendous accomplishment!