With 8:10 remaining in the game and his team tied against the Penn State Nittany Lions, Luka Garza laid in a wide-open assist from Jordan Bohannon to not only give his team the lead, but also to surprise Roy Marble as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,118 points — and counting. He was, as always, crucial as his team overcame a halftime deficit and ramped up the defensive pressure to earn a 74-68 win over Penn State at home. Garza finished the game with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
While the headlines will (understandably) note Garza’s tremendous achievement, the star of this game for Iowa was C.J. Frederick. In his second consecutive game back in the starting lineup after bouncing around with a leg injury, we saw Frederick play one of his best games of the season, tallying 18 points on 7-10 shooting including 4-7 from deep, which included a crazy off-balance dagger from deep late in the second half to cement Iowa’s lead for good.
Noticeably absent in the first half was Joe Wieskamp, who came into the matchup having been a scorching hot scorer for the Hawkeyes and playing some of the best basketball we’ve seen from him in the black and gold. But he came roaring back in the second half to score Iowa’s first nine points, and finished the night with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Jordan Bohannon also had a quiet, but solid performance, logging 6 points and 6 assists as he edges closer to passing Jeff Horner to become Iowa’s all-time leader in assists.
It took nearly two minutes for either team to score before Frederick got things going for the Hawkeyes, and he kept it that way as he scored eight quick points to bring his team out to an early 13-4 lead. From there, the Hawks continued on their tear from beyond the 3-point line and it looked like they would cruise to an easy victory, but the Nittany Lions refused to go away and quickly picked away at Iowa’s lead.
Garza, with the record clearly in his mind, struggled to find his rhythm early and saw his shots everywhere rattle out of the rim, gumming up the offensive rhythm. The game turned into a back-and-forth matchup from there, with nobody for Iowa truly taking over, and Penn State continually knocking at the door, despite always maintaining the lead, having a 25-21 advantage just barely midway through the first half.
Penn State managed to take a 1-point lead as Iowa struggled to find consistency on offense, but Frederick came back with another 3-pointer one possession later to give his team back the lead. Despite that, it seemed like all the momentum was owned by the Nittany Lions with Garza being contained, his teammates turning it over, and the tempo of the game going in Penn State’s favor. Frederick did his best to keep his team in the game, but Penn State still took its largest lead of the game at 36-33 with 2 minutes left in the half, and ended the half on an 11-3 run to enter the half with a 41-36 lead...its first halftime lead in eight games.
After a quiet first half, Wieskamp exploded early in the second half, tallying six quick points to get Iowa back within one within two minutes of the second half. And yet, Penn State hit two back-to-back 3 pointers in response to grow the lead. But Wieskamp continued his takeover and the Hawkeyes clawed back, as a three from Keegan Murray gave Iowa a 51-49 lead with 13:15 left in the game. The game was knotted for quite awhile at 54-54 as neither team could find any sort of rhythm, until, with 8:10 to go, Garza laid in a basket off an assist from Jordand Bohannon to not only take the lead but also surpass Roy Marble to become Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
From there, the Hawks settled in as part of an 10-2 run to go up 64-56. With Garza free of the pressure of surprising the record, he finally came alive, and a Bohannon three, his second of the game, gave Iowa a double-digit lead for the second time in the game with 5:26 left in the game.
Penn State continued trying to rally — even drawing within five with under a minute to go — but Iowa responded every time, and the Hawkeyes earned their fourth-straight victory. Up next: the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday for one of the biggest challenges of the season.