Hawkeyes romp past overmatched Kennesaw State before big crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa men's basketball team had only one chance to breathe on its schedule between Nov. 28 and whenever the season ends in March.

That was Sunday, when one-win Kennesaw State came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the ultimate tuneup game for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa was in tune, all right.

The Hawkeyes did whatever they wanted on both ends of the court in a 93-51 victory, to the delight of the biggest crowd of the season so far.

Many of the fans may have come to see the "Star Wars" characters who posed for pictures in the concourse. If they stayed long enough, they saw Iowa senior Ryan Kriener pose for a long time while hanging from the rim after a second-half dunk that punctuated this win.

Kriener scored a career-high 20 points, smiling as he headed to the bench after making all nine of his shots.

Starting center Luka Garza added 23 points and eight rebounds as Iowa dominated the paint. Joe Wieskamp scored 18 points, spearheading a 16-0 run early in the second half that allowed Iowa to completely take control.

The Hawkeyes were coming off a stretch in which they went 5-2 against top-level competition, with only one of those games played here. After this comes 18 Big Ten Conference games. And then tournament play.

So it was no wonder the Hawkeyes enjoyed this one so much.

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp (10) gets high-fives from teammates Iowa forward Riley Till, left, Iowa guard Connor McCaffery (30) and Iowa guard CJ Fredrick (5) after drawing a foul during a NCAA college men's basketball game against Kennesaw State, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Hawkeyes (10-3) had played Kennesaw State only once previously, a 91-74 victory here in 2016.

Iowa wasted no time asserting its dominance this time against the Owls (1-12), racing to a double-digit lead behind Garza. The 6-foot-11 junior had 14 points and five rebounds in the first half.

The Hawkeyes led 49-30 at intermission after gathering 10 steals and scoring 18 points off of turnovers.

Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint finished with six points, seven assists and four steals, shaking off a poor performance in his starting debut on Dec. 21 against Cincinnati, a game in which he committed three turnovers and three fouls while failing to score.

Iowa next plays Penn State in Philadelphia on Jan. 4.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at memmert@registermedia.com 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.