Luka Garza Discusses Iowa's 'Heartbreaking' Loss to Oregon: 'It's so Surreal'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

Iowa's Luka Garza reacts as he taken out of the game during the second half of a second-round game against Oregon in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Monday, March 22, 2021, in Indianapolis. Oregon won 95-80. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Luka Garza will forever be an Iowa legend, but his Hawkeyes career surely ended sooner than he hoped or expected when his team lost to the Oregon Ducks in Monday's second-round showdown of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament. 

"It's heartbreaking," he told reporters. "It's so surreal. It hit me all at once that this is the last time I'll put on this jersey."

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"It's heartbreaking. It's so surreal. It hit me all at once that this is the last time I'll put on this jersey." Luka Garza reflects on his final game as a a Hawkeye. https://t.co/bews1hKvaG

The big man did what he could in the 95-80 loss with 36 points and nine rebounds. However, as has been the case for much of the season, Iowa's struggles on defense were too much to overcome.

Oregon had four players with at least 17 points, including Chris Duarte (23 points) and LJ Figueroa (21 points). The Ducks got to the rim, created a number of outside open looks and finished with 25 assists to 11 turnovers in the victory.

Iowa's defense is just 73rd in the country in KenPom.com's rankings, which stands in stark contrast to its No. 2 offense.

Garza finishes his collegiate career as an all-time great in the Big Ten and already had his jersey retired by the Hawkeyes. He won his second straight Big Ten Player of the Year this season and is a finalist for the Naismith Men's Player of the Year alongside Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham, Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu and Gonzaga's Corey Kispert.

The Hawkeyes big man was a finalist for the award last season as well, although he lost to Dayton's Obi Toppin.

While Garza will likely need some time to get over the loss to the Ducks, he already cemented his legacy within the Hawkeyes program.