EditorsNote: adds city in lede; fixes “McCaffery” in fourth graf
Junior center Luka Garza delivered 28 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to orchestrate a second-half rally as No. 19 Iowa earned an 85-80 victory over No. 24 Rutgers in Big Ten action Wednesday night in Iowa City.
Sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half for Iowa (14-5, 5-3 Big Ten) while freshman guard Joe Touissaint added 14 points. The Hawkeyes trailed by eight early in the second half, needed just nine minutes to transform it into a 10-point lead and then gave it all away before emerging with the win.
For Rutgers (14-5, 5-3), which played its first game as a ranked team since losing an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game to St. John’s on March 16, 1979, sophomore swingman Ron Harper, Jr. led the way with a career-high 29 points with nine rebounds. Graduate transfer forward Akwasi Yeboah added 17 points — 13 in the first half.
After a Harper layup in the waning seconds of the first half, Rutgers took a 43-38 lead into the break. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery walked on the court to yell at the officials, which led to a technical foul before he fumed his way to the locker room.
Sophomore guard Caleb McDonnell sank one of the two technical free throws, then the Scarlet Knights followed that with Johnson throwing an alley-oop to Harper for a slam and a 46-38 lead.
Iowa responded with eight straight — capped by Wieskamp’s baseline drive for a layup that became a three-point play — to pull into a 46-46 tie. That triggered a long stretch in which the teams dashed back and forth exchanging big baskets.
Iowa became the first Rutgers opponent since Michigan State on Dec. 8 to eclipse the 65-point mark when Garza flipped in a spin move just outside the lane to give Iowa a 67-59 lead with 11:33 to go.
Toussaint’s acrobatic transition layup pushed Iowa’s margin to 69-59 with 10:25 left, but then the Hawkeyes missed seven straight shots from the field. Rutgers gradually grew closer and regained a 77-76 lead on Harper’s pair of free throws with 2:25 to go.
Redshirt freshman guard CJ Fredrick’s driving layup at the 2:15 mark finally snapped Iowa’s field-goal drought and gave the Hawkeyes a 78-77 edge. Wieskamp followed with a 3-pointer, and Iowa added four free throws to hold on.
—Field Level Media