Second-half blitz carries Hawkeyes past North Florida 83-68
IOWA CITY, Ia. — On the first possession of the second half Thursday, Iowa guard CJ Fredrick lofted a pass that Joe Wieskamp leaped to retrieve and hammer through the basket in one motion.
That was a sign. This was a different Hawkeye team. Iowa went on a 17-4 run after intermission to put away North Florida at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, pulling away for an 83-68 victory.
The taller Hawkeyes dominated the glass, getting 20 offensive rebounds that resulted in 24 points. They forced the Ospreys to foul, making 13 of 20 free throws. They used their depth to their advantage, getting 24 points from bench players to wear down a North Florida team that had only nine athletes in uniform.
It was a promising opening to Iowa's appearance in the Las Vegas Invitational, a four-game span that will culminate with two contests in Sin City over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Hawkeyes (3-1) found little separation in a first half that included 10 lead changes. They were on top just 39-35 after 20 minutes.
Junior center Luka Garza had a particularly rough start, twice having his shots blocked by North Florida’s Wajid Aminu, who is four inches shorter at 6-foot-7. Garza missed his first five shots.
But Garza was Iowa’s biggest advantage, and he eventually started to use his bulk to great effect. He operated effectively around the rim, stepped out to drain a 3-pointer from the right corner and followed that with a 12-footer from the left baseline. He finished the half with seven consecutive makes.
Garza was coming off a career-high 30-point outing. He had 18 in the first half and 29 in the game.
The Ospreys (4-2), meanwhile, relied on long-range shooting to stay in the game. They average 35 3-point attempts per game, and sank 6 of 12 in the opening 20 minutes. They were 6-for-17 in the second half.
Iowa next hosts Cal Poly at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
No one covers the Hawkeyes like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.