IOWA CITY, Iowa — Luka Garza was surrounded by some different faces in the final minutes of No. 8 Iowa’s 84-78 win over Michigan State on Tuesday.
Garza scored 27 points to reach another career milestone, but the Hawkeyes finished the win with bench players like freshmen Keegan Murray and Tony Perkins and sophomore Joe Toussaint getting quality second-half minutes.
It’s something Garza said wasn’t surprising, something he learned when he was starting as a freshman under coach Fran McCaffery.
“Coach has always been like that,” Garza said. “If somebody’s playing well, playing better than a starter, they’re going to play. I think we have a really unselfish group. We want to win games. It’s a lot about who’s going, who’s not going.”
Iowa got 39 bench points – sophomore forward Jack Nunge had 12 points, and Toussaint added 11. The Hawkeyes went 11 deep in the game, and got more than 89 minutes from their reserves, more than 46 in the second half.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at a stat sheet and seen 39 bench points,” McCaffery said. “That’s incredible.”
“To be honest, it’s whatever they need me to do,” Toussaint said. “Nobody on the bench thinks of us as just being bench players. We’re just other players who come in. Just having that confidence coming into the game, that’s a thing we hold for each other.”
The reserves shot 13 of 19 from the field, had 19 of Iowa’s 38 rebounds, and Toussaint had the lone turnover among the bench players.
“We just have a team that can go deep in the bench and get productivity,” McCaffery said. “We got rebounds, we got points, we got solid play, like no turnovers.”
“Give them credit, they just kept throwing people at us,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “They just threw guard after guard after guard, and wore us down.”
Garza, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 26.4 points per game, became the second 2,000-point scorer in program history. Garza, who has 2,009 points, is 107 points behind all-time leading scorer Roy Marble. Garza also had 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season, and now has 810 career rebounds.
“I think it feels better that it came with a win,” Garza said. “I’m not a huge stat guy. I’m not all of that. I’m just glad we got a win.”
Garza was a big reason why the Spartans dealt with foul trouble. Forward Marcus Bingham fouled out, and Aaron Henry, Joey Hauser and Thomas Kithier each had four fouls.
Garza drew 12 of the 28 fouls called on Michigan State. Iowa shot 35 free throws, compared to 15 for the Spartans.
“They just drove us and went to the free-throw line,” Izzo said. “Jump into you, drive you, foul you, foul you. Every time you touched the big guy, there was a foul. I didn’t appreciate that. But, we’ve got to do a better job, so I have to do a better job.”
The Hawkeyes (13-4, 7-3 Big Ten) led 79-70 before the Spartans (8-7, 2-7) went on an 8-1 run. Michigan State had a chance to tie the game after forcing a shot-clock violation, but Joshua Langford missed a jumper with 24 seconds left.
Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon closed the game with four consecutive free throws.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Spartans. Iowa snapped a five-game losing streak to Michigan State, which came in having won 19 of the last 22 in the series.
The Spartans, who were just 5 of 24 in 3-point shooting in Sunday’s 79-62 loss to Ohio State, opened up an early 26-15 lead by making their first six 3-pointers. But the Hawkeyes rallied for a 48-43 halftime lead behind Garza, who had 15 first-half points, and Nunge, who had 11.
Henry led Michigan State with 24 points. Langford had 15 points. Hauser had 10.
Iowa guard CJ Fredrick, who missed Friday’s game at Illinois because of a lower leg injury, started and played 12 minutes, scoring two points. Fredrick has started all 16 games he has played in this season. “I feel terrible for CJ,” McCaffery said. “He’s clearly not himself. We’ll get him right.”
Michigan State, which went 20 days without a game because of COVID-19 issues within the program, was playing its third game in six days, all on the road. This was the first game in a three-game, six-day stretch for Iowa.
Iowa broke a two-game losing streak heading into Thursday’s game against Ohio State. It’s the first four-game losing streak for the Spartans since the 2006-07 season, and their first 2-7 start in Big Ten play since 1969-70. “There’s no need to put our heads down,” Langford said. “The season is still continuing.”
Iowa: At home against No. 7 Ohio State on Thursday.
Michigan State: At home against Nebraska on Saturday.