An Exhausting Win For Hawkeyes Over Michigan
The night had been draining.
A sapping run by Michigan was starting to take a toll on Iowa midway through the second half of Friday’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes had just turned the ball over, they were trailing by four points, and the horn sounded for the under-8 media timeout.
“It was interesting,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “because we seemed a little bit tired. (The) timeout came at a good time.”
It did, because the Hawkeyes figured they weren’t done yet.
“We didn’t want to go out that way,” center Luka Garza said.
What happened next was the completion to one of those classic Big Ten games in January.
The Hawkeyes rallied for a 90-83 win over No. 19/20 Michigan behind Garza, big 3-pointers from CJ Fredrick, and pieces from everyone else.
In other words, it looked just like a lot of Iowa’s victories this season.
Garza had 33 points to lead four Hawkeyes in double figures in front of a boisterous crowd limited by another Friday night winter storm but who provided constant noise.
“We got a tired group and we’ve got to toughen up, and that’s when you need the fans,” McCaffery said.
They got louder because of what the Hawkeyes were doing. Iowa (13-5 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) answered a 17-4 run by the Wolverines (11-6, 2-4) with a 13-2 burst.
“We wanted to get some stops and put together some good possessions offensively,” Garza said. “Once we locked in on the defensive end, and put some baskets together, we were right back in it.”
It started when Fredrick, who would play 38 minutes in his second game back after a stress reaction in his left foot kept him out of two games, hit a fast-break 3-pointer off an assist from Joe Toussaint.
Toussaint had an open Joe Wieskamp underneath the basket as he charged down the right side, but Fredrick was roaring up behind Toussaint.
“I saw him driving, and I was yelling, ‘Trailer,’” Fredrick said. “I knew five steps before I got the ball I was going to shoot it.”
“It was huge,” McCaffery said. “It gave us the confidence to come back because we were pretty much relying on Luka up to that point. It also re-energized the crowd.
“So it was big.”
That started a run of big plays. Garza hit a 3-pointer, then followed that with a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to 74-73. Fredrick hit another 3-pointer 45 seconds later to put Iowa in the lead to stay.
Michigan got to within 80-79, but Ryan Kriener’s 3-pointer with 3:05 left off a Connor McCaffery assist kept the Hawkeyes in control.
Garza dominated Michigan again. He scored 44 points on the Wolverines in a December loss, and Michigan again had no answer for him.
Garza got to the free-throw line 13 times, making 11, after drawing 12 fouls.
“I was able to get low post position, get those guys in foul trouble,” Garza said. “They’ve got so many bigs to rotate at me. I just tried to get them all in foul trouble, soften (the defense) for me, make them go back a little bit.”
First-year Michigan coach Juwan Howard didn’t know anything about Garza before the season, but he’s received an education in two games.
“Very skilled basketball player,” Howard said. “He’s proven that he’s one of the best college basketball players in the country. All the work that he’s put in is definitely paying off for him.”
Garza appreciated the compliment.
“That means the world to me to have a coach like that talk about me,” Garza said.
He appreciated the win more.
Fredrick had 21 points and Wieskamp had 20. Kriener had 14 — he had 11 points in a 15-2 first-half run that gave the Hawkeyes the lead. Connor McCaffery didn’t score, but had a career-high 13 rebounds to go with five assists.
Garza, Fredrick, Wieskamp and Connor McCaffery played more than 30 minutes.
“We played some guys a lot of minutes,” Fran McCaffery said. “Heavy minutes.”
The exhaustion the Hawkeyes had endured late in the game felt good at the end.