Iowa center Luka Garza on the 'revenge' factor vs. Nebraska and the importance of having CJ Fredrick back. Listen: Hawk Central
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — This is what it takes to earn a Big Ten Conference road win this basketball season.
A star center pouring in 24 points before fouling out.
A senior guard making two clutch free throws while a soldout crowd screams in his ears.
A defense that forces five turnovers in the final five minutes.
Iowa got all of that, and needed all of that, to vanquish Minnesota 58-55 on Sunday at Williams Arena.
It was just the second road win of the season in Big Ten play for the Hawkeyes, and they got it by scoring the final 11 points of the game.
There was so little offensive flow to the contest that when Minnesota scored eight points in a 45-second span late it seemed shocking. That gave the Gophers a 55-47 lead with 5:21 left.
They never scored again.
Luka Garza, as usual, led Iowa with 24 points.
Bakari Evelyn drained the two free throws that gave the Hawkeyes their first lead of the second half at 57-55.
It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for Iowa. And also maybe the sweetest, as it snapped a three-game road losing streak and a run of five consecutive setbacks in this building.
Garza hit his first five shots to give No. 17 Iowa (18-8, 9-6 Big Ten Conference) a quick 10-2 lead. But the Gophers then put their star center, Daniel Oturu, on Garza and he missed his next three shots, picked up two fouls and didn’t score again in the first half.
That allowed Minnesota (12-12, 6-8) to start chipping away the Hawkeye lead, moving ahead on a 14-0 run.
With Garza on the bench for the final five minutes of the half, Ryan Kriener provided five big points late to keep the Gophers from compiling a double-digit halftime lead. Kriener, a senior center making his third start of the season with CJ Fredrick sidelined by an ankle injury, played 17 minutes in the first half, contributing seven points, five rebounds and two assists.
Sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp was the only Hawkeye to play all 20 minutes in the first half, but he attempted only four shots, making one. He had another field goal waved off when it was ruled to occur just after the shot clock expired. He finished with just two points, but added eight rebounds.
Minnesota led 31-26 at intermission. It was the lowest point total for Iowa in any half of play this season.
It didn't get much better.
But it was enough for a needed victory.
Iowa next hosts Ohio State on Thursday.
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.