Iowa 87, Oral Roberts 74: Here's what we learned

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central
Iowa center Luka Garza controls the ball as Oral Roberts forward Elijah Lufile defends during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Oral Roberts had no answer for Iowa center Luka Garza on Friday.

The junior tormented the smaller Golden Eagle players all night, scoring a career-high 30 points as the Hawkeyes (2-1) rolled 87-74 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Garza made 12 of 19 shots and added six offensive rebounds as Iowa came back from a lackluster 93-78 loss to DePaul on Monday to lead for all but 17 seconds against Oral Roberts (1-3).

Here's what we learned.

MESSAGE RECEIVED BY JACK NUNGE: Iowa’s starting power forward scored only two points in 25 minutes of court time in the first two games. Coach Fran McCaffery pulled him aside this week and told him to be more aggressive. Nunge obviously listened.

He drove to the rim on Iowa’s first possession but missed the layup. Then he stepped out to hit a 3-pointer for his first made basket of the season, visibly relieved as he retreated downcourt. He made a baseline jumper, got another basket on a post move and made one more 3-pointer, all before halftime. Nunge finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

GARZA BECOMING A ‘STRETCH 5:’ The junior center was 2-for-4 from 3-point range entering play, and then buried two more in the first half. That opened things up inside for Garza, who went to work down low and scored 18 first-half points. Garza, at 6-foot-11, has said he worked hardest this summer at improving his outside shot. The early results are promising.

CONNOR MCCAFFERY IN COMMAND: The sophomore point guard had his best half of the young season Friday, scoring nine points with five assists and no turnovers. The 6-5 left-hander was effective driving to the basket, where he was able to finish. He made all three of his free throws. He played a team-high 16 minutes in the first half after backup Joe Toussaint picked up two fouls. He finished with 10 points and seven assists.

IOWA EXTENDS ITS DEFENSE, AND GETS RESULTS: The Hawkeyes mixed up zone and man-to-man defenses, but extended both at times and seemed to take Oral Roberts by surprise. Iowa was active, forcing 10 first-half turnovers that generated 15 points. It was a far cry from Monday’s 93-78 loss to DePaul, which was never bothered by Iowa’s defense. The Golden Eagles did adjust, committing only two second-half turnovers.

Iowa next hosts North Florida at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.

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