Meet The Opponent: Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — There no doubt in Archie Miller's mind that Iowa's Luka Garza is the best player in the country. No one has figured out how to stop him yet, and it's Miller's Hoosiers who get the next shot at him on Thursday night,

"If it ended today and I had a vote, Luka Garza would be the national Player of the Year,'' Miller said "To go through our league with how our league's played this season, and to be averaging 26 (points) and whatever it is, and 10 and a half (rebounds) in league play is about as impressive of a guy so far as we've seen.

"They present a lot of problems and I think that's part of the success that Luka has. He has a great supporting cast around him that can also, you know, really, really space the floor around him. He does it in such a unique way that it'svery difficult to say, hey, we are going to take the ball out of his hands with traps or hey, we are going to double him, we're going to do this. He scores every which way ,form or fashion, whether it's transition, deep post catches, offensive rebounding. If you move him 12 to 15 feet, he's probably as good of a face-up jump shooter as you're going to see and he also has great savvy to use his body and play off the different ways that people play him, so he's drawing fouls. You mix in the three-point line, shoot in the high 30s, I mean, he's shooting an unbelievable percentage from three off some pick-and-pops and off transition and whatnot.''

No. 21-ranked Iowa is 17-7 overall and is 8-5 in the Big Ten, two games behind Maryland. They are 7-2 lately, with the only losses on the road at Maryland and Purdue. The Purdue game was their one stinker all year, where they lost by 36 points. During that stretch, Garza has been at 20 points or more in all nine game, the longest streak over 20 for an Iowa player since Freddie Brown in 1971. 

Garza gets plenty of help from guards Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick, who are averaging 15.4 and 11.2 points per game respectively. 

"When you look at their team, they are getting a lot of contributions from a lot of guys, and offensively, they are as lethal as any team that you're going to play in a lot of different ways, inside-outside transition and outside,'' Miller said. "Wieskamp is very underrated. He doesn't get the recognition or credit that other guys do nationally, but another guy averaging, 18, 19, 20, a game in our league, it's amazing the way they play. They really move the ball.''

"But Fran has done a great job with this team. And to me, they are playing as well as anybody in the league, and they have a guy (Garza) that could really lead them to a Final Four in terms of how dominant he is right now with how he plays.''

The game is at 8 p.m ET Thursday night and is being broadcast by the Big Ten Network.

Related Indiana-Iowa stories

  • TOM BREW COLUMN: Accountability in the locker is the key for Indiana in turning its season around. CLICK HERE
  • ARCHIE MILLER RADIO: Here's what Indiana coach Archie Miller said about his team's struggles during his radio show on Monday night. CLICK HERE
  • TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS HONORED: The Indiana freshman was named the Big Ten's Freshman of the week for the fourth time. CLICK HERE
  • GARZA'S STREAK: Behind the numbers in Luka Garza's incredible run in nine straight conference games.  CLICK HERE

VIDEO: Purdue's Matt Painter talks about Luka Garza