Garza starts season by winning Big Ten Player of the Week

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Iowa center Luka Garza, left, drives past North Carolina Central guard Justin Wright (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

University of Iowa men’s basketball All-American Luka Garza has been named the first Big Ten Player of the Week of the 2020-21 season following the Hawkeyes’ two victories last week. The announcement came Monday by the Big Ten Conference office.

Garza averaged 33.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in wins over North Carolina Central (97-67) and Southern University (103-76). The native of Washington, D.C., scorched the nets making 86.2 percent (25-of-29) of his field goal attempts, 75 percent (3-of-4) from 3-point range, and 87.5 percent (14-of-16) from the foul line. His 33.5 scoring average is tops among Division I players.

Garza torched Southern University for 41 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. He netted 36 first-half points, which is believed to be the most points scored by a Hawkeye in a half in program history. In the first half, Garza made all 12 field-goal attempts and was 10-of-12 from the free throw line.

Garza’s 41 points are the most points scored by a Hawkeye in a single-game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena history (1983), besting the 36 scored by Adam Haluska (2006) and Rob Griffin (2000). He finished the contest with a .933 field goal percentage (14-of-15), including a perfect 1.000 (3-of-3) from 3-point range, which is the best single-game mark by a Big Ten player since 1984 (Minnesota’s Tommy Davis, 15-of-16, at Indiana).

In Iowa’s season opener against North Carolina Central, Garza posted his 21st career double-double, recording game highs in scoring (26), rebounds (10), and blocked shots (3).

Garza tallied 20 points or more in both games last week and 18 straight, dating back to last season. That ties Oklahoma’s Trae Young (2017-18) for the second-longest streak by a major conference player over the last 20 seasons, trailing only North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren (19).

Garza’s 67 points last week moved him into Iowa’s top 10 in career scoring, surpassing Dean Oliver, Adam Haluska, and Jess Settles. Garza (1,626) is 10 points from moving past Matt Gatens (1,635) for eighth place.

The center is one of two players in program history to score 40 points or more in two games in a career (John Johnson, 49 and 46). Garza netted 44 points at Michigan last season.

Garza earned two Big Ten Player of the Week honors last season (Dec. 9, 2019 and Jan. 20, 2020).

No. 3 Iowa (2-0) will entertain Western Illinois (0-0) on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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