EVANSTON, Ill. — Luka Garza had 17 points and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes, and No. 5 Iowa rolled to a 96-73 victory over Northwestern on Sunday.
Joe Wieskamp had 16 points and CJ Fredrick added 13 as the Hawkeyes (12-2, 6-1 in the Big Ten) won their fifth straight. Iowa and Michigan are tied for the conference lead.
Garza, who entered averaging 27.6 points, sat out the final 12 minutes because of the lopsided score. He was 7 for 12 from the field and scored all of his points in the first half.
“Luka was not quite as dominant as he always is,” Wieskamp said. “But he was getting double-teamed and he was finding open guys. Teams have to respect Luka in the post. If they double team him, we have a lot of guys open.”
Pete Nance had 16 points and Boo Buie added 12 for Northwestern (6-6, 3-5), which dropped its fifth in a row.
“We knew what we were facing. They’re truly one of the elite teams,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “If you’re going to win, you have to play well on both ends and we fell short of that.”
Northwestern got off to a solid start and led 29-28 with just under eight minutes left in the first half on the strength of four 3s by Buie.
Iowa then took control with 13 straight points, six by Jack Nunge. The Hawkeyes led 49-37 at the break and opened the second half with a 13-2 run for a 62-39 advantage.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes were coming off a seven-day layoff because Thursday’s game against Michigan State was postponed. It didn’t affect their sharpness. The blowout win also allowed Garza to gain some added rest, which could pay off later in the season.
Northwestern: This was the Wildcats’ sixth straight game against a ranked opponent. They won the first game of that stretch against Ohio State on Dec. 26 but have dropped the last five, all by double digits. The previous longest streak of ranked opponents was four.
With the comfortable win, Iowa should remain in the top five when the new poll is released on Monday. Co-conference leader Michigan beat No. 9 Wisconsin but lost by 18 points at No. 23 Minnesota.
VIEW AT THE TOP
While the Iowa players noted in their postgame comments that they’d moved into a tie atop the Big Ten standings, coach Fran McCaffery never mentioned it to the team.
“I really don’t pay much attention to the standings,” he said. “We’re about a third of the way through the schedule and we’ve got some really good opponents coming up. It really doesn’t matter at this time of year.”
Iowa: Hosts Indiana Thursday night.
Northwestern: At No. 9 Wisconsin Wednesday night.