Iowa spent the first month of the season in the top five of the AP poll until it dropped six spots from No. 4 to No. 10 following a loss at Minnesota on Christmas Day. The Hawkeyes followed up by winning three straight and rising back to No. 5 entering Sunday's rematch with the No. 16 Golden Gophers. But if they wanted to avoid another fall in the polls, they needed to take care of their northern border rival this time around.
Luka Garza made sure that happened.
The nation's leading scorer poured in a game-high 33 points and led Iowa to an 86-71 win over Minnesota with a 13-of-20 shooting night to avenge the Gophers 102-95 overtime victory from a few weeks back. In that game, Garza finished with 32 points on an inefficient 11-of-27 shooting. This time around, there was no slowing down the Big Ten's preseason player of the year.
Both times that Minnesota (10-4, 3-4 Big Ten) cut its deficit to five points in the final six minutes, Garza responded with a bucket as the Hawkeyes (11-2, 5-1) closed the game on a 16-6 run. Joe Wieskamp provided the dagger at the 1:10 mark by drilling an open 3-pointer to put Iowa ahead 83-71. The junior forward contributed 20 points and became the 50th player in program history to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Garza, Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon, who finished with 19 points, combined to score 72 of Iowa's 86 points on 25-of-37 shooting. In total, Iowa shot 55% from the floor compared to just 35% for Minnesota, whose leading scorers Marcus Carr and Liam Robbins combined to make just 8 of 27 shots from the field.
Minnesota dropped below .500 in conference play with the loss, but all four of the Golden Gophers' defeats in the Big Ten have been in road games against top-15 opponents. Minnesota's next scheduled game is vs. No. 10 Michigan next Saturday, while the Hawkeyes are scheduled to host No. 23 Michigan State on Thursday.