While its latest victory may have lacked importance in terms of the caliber of opponent, Iowa was able to solve some of the issues that led to a four-game skid while also allowing freshman Luka Garza to flash the form he did in his first few games. The Hawkeyes and their resurgent young 6-11 forward attempt to build on their most recent effort Saturday when they square off against Drake at the Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.
Garza had a career-high 23 points and tied another personal best with 13 rebounds in only 19 minutes of action after dealing with some early foul trouble in Sunday’s 91-60 rout of Southern. The Hawkeyes, who committed an average of 17 turnovers during their losing streak and 18 in three straight leading up to Sunday, also shored up their ball-security issues by committing a season-low seven turnovers against the Jaguars, including only one in the second half. The Bulldogs have dropped four of five since a 4-1 start, but they pushed host Minnesota to the limit Monday before falling 68-67. “It would be hard for me to ask for a better effort. They played their hearts out and played together. They were locked in and fought like crazy tonight, we just came up a little short,” Drake coach Niko Medved said.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT DRAKE (5-5): The Bulldogs boast the best scoring offense (81.5 points) in the Missouri Valley Conference and are led by Reed Timmer (MVC-best 20.7 points), although the 6-1 sharpshooter is coming off easily his worst effort of the season (eight points on 1-of-8 from the field). Graham Woodward (11.7) buried four triples Monday to increase his season total to 26 - fourth in the MVC right behind Timmer’s team-leading 33 - and the senior guard duo accounts for more than half of the conference-leading 105 3-pointers Drake has hit so far. Ore Arogundade (7.7) more than doubled his scoring average entering the Minnesota game with a season-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench.
ABOUT IOWA (5-6): Garza (9.0 points, 6.9 rebounds per game) scored 14 of his 23 points against Southern in the first half with the game still in the balance, including nine of 11 points during one stretch on his way to his second double-double. “This was clearly his best game. He was a dominant force. As soon as I put him in, he was playing well. He ran the floor, was on the glass, and made very few mistakes. He was in the right place and settled everyone down,” coach Fran McCaffery said. Sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl sat out Sunday after suffering a nasty gash on his right shin in a Dec. 7 loss to Iowa State and is questionable to play against Drake.
1. Iowa blocked a season-high eight shots against Southern and recorded assists on 22 of its 28 made field goals.
2. Timmer needs 23 more points to pass former NBA shooting guard Lewis Lloyd (1,577) for fifth place on the school’s all-time scoring list and 11 more free throws to break Melvin Mathis’ school record of 439.
3. The Hawkeyes made 22 free throws Sunday, four more than the previous three games combined.
PREDICTION: Iowa 88, Drake 78