The Hawkeye sophomore got hit in the head on a dunk but was cleared to return. Mark Emmert / The Register


IOWA CITY, Ia. — Tyler Cook put Iowa on the board first Friday with a 15-foot jump shot from the left wing.

Luka Garza made a free-throw line jumper of his own and then knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the first half of a 98-75 victory over Northern Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The significance of those shots should not be lost in Iowa’s blowout nonconference finale. Cook and Garza are two of the team’s best low-post options. When they extend their range, they can give the Hawkeyes an extra dimension.

“That’s a game-changer for us, when he’s doing that,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after Cook sank three mid-range jump shots en route to 17 points. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can make that shot, but when you have a guy that’s a handful in the post that’s also making that shot that’s also finding people, now you really put them in a box and they’ve got to come up with something.”

Cook, a 6-foot-9 sophomore power forward, finished with 17 points and three assists. He was effective scoring near the basket, 15 feet from it, and finding open teammates when the Huskies double-teamed him.

Garza, a 6-11 freshman center, ended up with a career-high 25 points. He made all three of his 3-pointers after sinking just 2-of-11 in the first 14 games.

 McCaffery was asked if he’d ever seen a 6-11 player shoot 3-pointers like Garza can.

“Yeah, but he wasn’t really that big. He was a big guy where I was coaching,” McCaffery said as reporters laughed. “The first time I saw Luka play I think he made six 3s. He’s always been a good 3-point shooter. It’s good to see him shooting with a that kind of confidence right now. He’s got a good stroke.”

Garza said confidence has been the key.

“I’ve been shooting that way in practice sometimes. I get on rolls like that and it was nice to have one of those games,” Garza said

“It stretches the floor. It creates driving lanes. It’s great having space.”

No worries for Dailey

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey took a frightening tumble in the second half. The sophomore bolted in from the left baseline for a dunk and was met at rim by the Huskies’ Noah McCarty. Dailey completed the dunk but nosedived to the court and appeared to land on his face. The crowd grew silent as McCaffery went to check on his player.

“I wasn’t going to until I saw him hold his head,” McCaffery said.

Dailey went to the locker room while Garza came on to sink the free throw that completed the three-point play.

The officials checked the replay to make sure that McCarty hadn’t committed a flagrant foul.

“I asked the official, ‘Did he hit his head on the floor? They said, no it got hit on the dunk,’” McCaffery recalled.

“He got whacked when he went in.  That’s why they looked at it and they said it was a basketball play, not a dirty play. I didn’t think it was a dirty play either.”

Dailey returned to Iowa’s bench after the training staff cleared him to play. But he sat for the final 12 minutes while the Hawkeyes (9-6) salted the game away.

He is the team’s primary backup at point guard after Connor McCaffery underwent tonsillectomy surgery Wednesday.

Dailey finished with eight points and four assists in 12 minutes.

Cook takes over

The Hawkeyes led 13-0 before the Huskies could breathe. Cook had nine of those points, showing an aggressiveness to battle inside after his initial jump shot. Northern Illinois had no one who could contain Cook.  That forced the Huskies to try a familiar tactic without the necessary personnel.

“He shot it well, moved, ran, was active on the glass.” McCaffery said of Cook “He’s a special kid because he really had it going. He could have tried to go for a big night for himself, but he was flashing to the high post. Guys were open at the basket and he’s dropping passes and the second half when they were doubling him, he’s kicking it out to 3-point shooters. That’s what he’s got to do for us to be as good as we can be. And ultimately he’s showing that he’s a complete player. That’s what you want.”