Energy off the bench propels Iowa to an opening day victory

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After a slow start, the Hawkeyes were able to pull off a 97-67 victory to extend their streak of opening night wins to 10 games in a row. Luka Garza led the way for Iowa with 26 points and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. Garza wasted no time rewriting the history books this season, his game against the Eagles extended his streak of at least 20 points to 17 straight games. The streak is the longest in Division I since Oklahoma’s Trae Young had an 18-game streak in 2017-2018. His scoring performance also moved him to 10th on the all-time scoring list for Iowa men’s basketball (1,585 career points).

“We got to create our own energy. I think for me as a basketball player I have no problem doing that,” said Garza. “I play with the same intensity level whether I’m playing at LA fitness or whether I’m playing in front of 15,000 fans. I think that’s the mentality our team needs to have going forward and I think that’s what we did have today. On the bench, guys did a good job of hyping us up, and once you’re in the game and you’re not worried about anything else other than winning the basketball game.”

But it wasn’t just the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year who pushed Iowa to a win. Four Hawkeyes hit double-digit scoring numbers against NCCU (Garza, P. McCaffery, Ke. Murray, Fredrick) en route to the 30-point blowout.

“Luka in the post is always going to create a lot of attention,” said head coach Fran McCaffery. “He finishes everything in there. Got us into the double bonus in both halves. But also his offensive rebounding along with Patrick (McCaffery) and Keegan (Murray) really made a difference. That’s how you go on a 20-2 run. You get putbacks. You’re not going to score every time. You’ve got to go get it and put it back in. We got into our press, got our defense set, and our defense energized our offense.”

P. McCaffery and Ke. Murray’s production from the bench changed the momentum of the game in the first half, and it’s something that Hawkeye fans should count on seeing more of in future ball games.

“Energy was a big thing. I felt like our energy was maybe a little lacking so I wanted to get out there and provide energy,” said P. McCaffery. “Be a spark plug off the bench. I feel like that’s my role on this team. Try to provide energy and get those baskets on the breaks and on offensive rebounds, just provide a spark and that’s what I was trying to do. It was really fun being out in Carver. We do it every day in practice but it’s different with the lights and playing against other people. It was a pretty good game overall.”

Iowa plays again on Friday. They’ll be taking on Southern University. We’ll have full coverage right here on Hawkeye Headquarters.

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