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Wednesday's college basketball: No. 19 Iowa holds off No. 24 Rutgers

Detroit News staff and wires

Iowa City, Iowa — Steve Pikiell thought his team did a good job on Iowa center Luka Garza.

Then the Rutgers coach looked at the box score.

Garza had 28 points and 13 rebounds as No. 19 Iowa held on in the closing seconds to beat No. 24 Rutgers 85-80 on Wednesday night.

Iowa guard Joe Toussaint, fights for a loose ball with Rutgers guard Ron Harper Jr. during the second half.

“That tells you what kind of tier he’s on,” Pikiell said.

“I don’t know if he’s elevating his game,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s just dominant every night. You look at him, and you’re like, ‘Well, I’m not surprised, 28 and 13.”

Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had his 11th double-double of the season. He came into the game averaging 22.9 points and 10.2 rebounds.

All of this, Garza said, is “fun.”

“You can control what you can control,” he said. “You can’t control the numbers or anything like that. But you can control your effort.”

“He’s relentless,” Pikiell said. “He’s a problem for a lot of people. This league is filled with a lot of good guys, and he’s right at the top of the list.”

“Obviously, he creates a lot of confidence,” McCaffery said. “You throw it in there, he’s going to get to the free-throw line, or he’s going to get a bucket. And defensively, he’s really in a good place.”

Connor McCaffery hit four free throws in the final 16 seconds, his only points of the night, to close out the win for the Hawkeyes (14-5, 5-3 Big Ten), who led by nine points three times in the second half before Rutgers (14-5, 5-3) rallied.

The Scarlet Knights scored seven points in a 22-second span to take a 77-76 lead, a stretch that included back-to-back turnovers by the Hawkeyes. But CJ Fredrick gave Iowa the lead back on a layup with 2:16 to go. Joe Wieskamp’s 3-pointer 37 seconds later put the Hawkeyes ahead 81-77.

“We certainly had the opportunity to hang our heads,” McCaffery said. “We did not do that. We kept fighting. We executed on offense to perfection, and then we got key stops.

“No one was quitting on each other,” Garza said.

Wieskamp had 18 points, Joe Toussaint scored 14 and Ryan Kriener had 11 for the Hawkeyes. Toussaint also had seven rebounds.

Rutgers came into the game leading the Big Ten in scoring defense at 58.7 points per game. Iowa’s total was the most the Scarlet Knights have surrendered this season.

“It’s understanding that you have to be able to play through that physicality without losing your composure,” McCaffery said. “I thought that’s what we did in order to get 85 points against this team, a very good defensive team, as impressive a team defensively as I’ve seen on film.”

Ron Harper Jr. had a career-high 29 points for Rutgers. His previous best was 27 against the Hawkeyes last season. Akwasi Yeboah had 17 points and Myles Johnson added 10.

Top 25

(At) No. 6 Louisville 68, Georgia Tech 64: Malik Williams had 13 points and grabbed two late rebounds leading to three free throws in the final 23 seconds. Steven Enoch also had 13 points while Jordan Nwora and David Johnson each scored 10 for Louisville (16-3, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its fifth in a row. The Cardinals held Tech (8-11, 3-6) to 33% shooting in the second half after the Yellow Jackets made 62% before halftime.

The Cardinals trailed 43-32 early in the second half before outscoring the Yellow Jackets 22-9 over 10 1/2 minutes to take the lead.

Michael Devoe had 21 points and Alvarado scored 13 for the Yellow Jackets, who lost their third straight and fourth of five.

(At) No. 7 Dayton 86, St. Bonaventure 60: Jalen Crutcher matched his career high with 23 points, Obi Toppin had four dunks, and Dayton — playing with its highest ranking in 52 years — showed off its versatility while pulling away from St. Bonaventure.

Crutcher’s 3 started a 22-5 run that closed the first half and put Dayton (17-2, 6-0 Atlantic 10) up 47-29.

Toppin provided the most crowd-pleasing moments, repeatedly getting open for alley-oop dunks. He had 18 points and nine rebounds.

Jaren English led the Bonnies (12-7, 4-2) with 17 points.

(At) No. 10 Seton Hall 73, Providence 64: Romaro Gill matched his career high with 17 points to make up for a rare sub-par game by Myles Powell and Seton Hall outlasted Providence for its ninth straight victory.

Jared Rhoden added 15 points and eight rebounds to help the Pirates improve to 15-4 overall and 7-0 in the Big East, their best start in the league. Powell, who was averaging 22.4 points, finished with 14, while Quincy McKnight had 11.

Seton Hall shot 58% from the field in matching its longest winning streak since 2002-03.

Alpha Diallo had 13 points and eight rebounds for Providence (11-9, 4-3), which was limited to 36% shooting from the field. Nate Watson added 10 points.

(At) No. 16 Auburn 80, South Carolina 67: Devan Cambridge scored 26 points, J’Von McCormick added 13 and Auburn beat South Carolina to stop a two-game skid.

The Tigers (16-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) started off sluggish but ran away with it down the stretch due in large part to hot shooting off the bench.

South Carolina (10-8, 2-3) played without starting forward Keyshawn Bryant. Jermaine Cousinard led the Gamecocks with 16 points and Justin Minaya added 10.

(At) Tulsa 80, No. 20 Memphis 40: Jeriah Horne scored 21 points to help lead Tulsa to a surprisingly dominant win over Memphis.

The 40-point margin of victory is the largest-ever for Tulsa against a ranked opponent.

Martins Igbanu had 11 points and Brandon Rachal, the reigning American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week, also had 11 for Tulsa (13-6, 5-1 American). The Golden Hurricane has now won four straight games following a stretch where they went 1-3.

Precious Achiuwa scored 10 points for Memphis (14-4, 3-2), which shot a season-low 28.8% from the floor.

State women

Central Michigan 89, (at) Eastern Michigan 82: Micaela Kelly scored 29 and Molly Davis 14 for Central (13-4, 6-0 Mid-American Conference). Areanna Combs scored 19 for Eastern (8-9, 3-3).

(At) Bowling Green 72, Western Michigan 63: Angela Perry scored 20 and Mari Hill 16 for Bowling Green (8-10, 1-5 MAC). Breanna Mobley scored 17 and Jordan Walker and Leighah-Amori Wool 12 each for Western (10-7, 3-3).