Iowa handles Penn State
IOWA CITY (AP) — Luka Garza knew he missed plenty of chances to score in the first half of Saturday’s game against Penn State.
The Iowa junior center made sure that didn’t happen in the second half, and he got some help from his teammates.
Garza scored 25 points and had 17 rebounds as No. 18 Iowa pulled away in the second half for a 77-68 win over the No. 16 Nittany Lions.
He extended his streak of 20 or more points against Big Ten teams to 14 games, a new school record. It was Garza’s 14th double-double of the season.
But Garza struggled in the first half, going 3 of 16 from the field. He was 8 of 12 from the field in the second half.
“I just had to refocus,” Garza said. “I’ve never missed that many shots in my life. It was frustrating. Over the course of my career, I don’t let that bother me. I just keep shooting. No matter how many shots it takes, I need to be confident.
“That’s the rare occasion where I shoot that poorly. I’m still going to be aggressive.”
Garza had nine points in the Hawkeyes’ 18-6 run to start the second half. Iowa closed the first half on a 13-4 run to take a 35-34 halftime lead.
“It was great to have him in there, because we kept going to him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “And it opens things up for everybody else.”
It was the 13th consecutive home win for the Hawkeyes (20-9, 11-7 Big Ten).
“We wanted to punch them in the mouth early,” Iowa guard CJ Fredrick said. “We didn’t play our best in the first half, but we were still up one. We just wanted to create some separation, kind of set the tone.”
Joe Wieskamp had 13 points for the Hawkeyes. Fredrick returned to the Iowa starting lineup after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, and scored 10 points. The Hawkeyes also got 21 bench points, and seven of the eight Iowa players who played scored at least six points.
“There are so many scorers, so many guys who can impact in different ways,” Garza said.
Lamar Stevens led Penn State (21-8, 11-7) with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his 16th career double-double. Freshman Seth Lundy had a career-high 19 points, 14 in the first half. Myles Dread had 11.
“I thought we did a good job on Garza, for the most part,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “It took him 28 shots.”
Penn State guard Myreon Jones, who missed the last six games because of an undisclosed illness, played 19 minutes and scored five points.
“We’ve got to get him going again,” Chambers said.
LOSING THEIR COOL
Penn State’s Jamari Wheeler and Mike Watkins were called for technical fouls on separate plays in the second half. It ended up costing the Nittany Lions four points — Wieskamp made all four free throws.
“I think we let the emotions get to us a bit,” Chambers said. “We can’t get technical fouls that hurt ourselves, hurt our teammates. We’ll learn from that. We’ll get better. We’ll keep it in check.”
Penn State lost for the third time in its last four games after an eight-game winning streak, failing to keep the Nittany Lions in the four-way tie for second place in the Big Ten.
“This league is so good,” Chambers said. “So relentless, so suffocating.”
Iowa won for the fourth time in six games, staying in the chase for a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Nittany Lions split their games this week and shouldn’t move much in the rankings. It’s the same for the Hawkeyes, who lost at Michigan State on Tuesday after leading for most of the game.
Penn State plays at home against Michigan State on Tuesday.
Iowa plays at home against Purdue on Tuesday.