Luka Garza had 26 points and 10 rebounds and No. 5 Iowa opened the season with a 97-67 victory over North Carolina Central on Wednesday.
Garza, the Big Ten player of the year last season and the lone unanimous selection on the preseason AP All-America team, had his 17th consecutive game of 20 points or more.
The senior center had just four points in the first 10 1/2 minutes before the Hawkeyes took control with a 20-2 run near the end of the first half. He had six of Iowa’s final nine points in the run.
The Hawkeyes, with all five starters back from a team that was 20-11 last season, trailed for the first six minutes.
Redshirt freshman forward Patrick McCaffery, the son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, had 16 points. He played in two games last season before health issues sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Freshman Keegan Murray added 12 points, and CJ Fredrick had 10.
CJ Keyser led North Carolina Central with 15 points. Nicolas Fennell had 12.
Coaches and managers for both teams wore masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bench area consisted of four rows of seats. Iowa’s players and coaches had assigned seats.
Iowa was without sophomore forward Jack Nunge. Nunge’s father, Mark, an emergency services physician in Newburgh, Indiana, died Saturday. A moment of silence was held before the game. Jack Nunge missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Iowa looked sluggish early, trailing for the first six minutes. A strong opening game for Patrick McCaffery means more frontcourt depth for the Hawkeyes. North Carolina Central had to pause workouts last week because of a positive COVID-19 test, but the Eagles led early in the game before fading at the end of the first half.
UP NEXT: Both teams get a second game in this multi-team event. North Carolina Central plays Southern on Thursday, and Iowa plays Southern on Friday.
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