Luka Garza scored 26 points and it took some time for No. 5 Iowa to get rolling on its way to a 97-67 season-opening victory against visiting North Carolina Central on Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
Garza, a 6-foot-11 senior who's considered one of the country's top players, overpowered the Eagles. He shot 11-for-14 from the field while also grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes won their first game of the season for the 10th year in a row.
Patrick McCaffery, a redshirt freshman and one of coach Fran McCaffery's two sons on the Iowa roster, provided 16 points off the bench. Keegan Murray added 12 points and C.J. Fredrick had 10 points for Iowa.
C.J. Keyser led NC Central with 15 points, while Nicolas Fennell had 12 points and a team-best seven rebounds and Jamir Moultrie supplied nine points
Despite controlling the game in the lane, the Hawkeyes took nearly half of their shots from 3-point range. They were 10-for-30 from long distance as part of their 32-for-66 overall shooting.
Iowa ended up with a 44-28 rebounding advantage.
Garza scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field in the first half as the Hawkeyes led 44-29 at the break.
NC Central led 22-20 on Keyser's 3-pointer with 8:49 left in the half before Iowa went on a 20-2 run.
The Eagles closed within 49-37 in the second half. About 3 1/2 minutes later, Iowa had stretched the margin to 65-41 on Joe Toussaint's 3-point basket.
NC Central had two players with four fouls apiece by the midway mark of the second half as trying to match up with Garza was too much to handle. Two players fouled out and another had four fouls.
The Hawkeyes shot 23 of 29 on free throws compared to NC Central's 13 of 17.
This was the first of six consecutive road games on the NC Central schedule.
--Field Level Media