Liam Robbins joined the Gophers this season to give Richard Pitino an inside presence that could battle against the Big Ten's top centers.
The 7-foot Drake transfer battled foul trouble again Friday, but he had some help this time.
Robbins finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks vs. No. 4 Iowa and the nation's leading scorer, Luka Garza, who had 32 points and 17 rebounds in the Gophers' 102-95 overtime victory.
It looked like a matchup definitely won by Garza, but Robbins was aided by his teammates to give the Gophers the edge in the first half.
"I thought we did a great job and he had 32 points [on 11-for-27 shooting]," Pitino said of Garza. "He was getting some offensive rebounds that was hurting us. But I thought our team defense was really good."
A Davenport, Iowa, native, Robbins matched up well against Garza through the first five minutes. But Robbins headed to the bench with 13:09 to play after his second foul.
Robbins experienced the same start in his Big Ten debut on Dec. 15 in a 92-65 loss at Illinois. He scored six early points but played 16 minutes before fouling out. Meanwhile, Illinois' 7-foot, 285-pound Kofi Cockburn dominated with 33 points and 13 rebounds.
The Gophers got some help in the middle Friday. Eric Curry and Sam Freeman held their own physically against Garza, who had only five points on 2-for-11 shooting at halftime.
"He's one of the best players in the country," Curry said. "We just came in and tried to do our job. Just tried to contain him as much as possible. Of course, he's going to score. We know that."
Robbins felt bad putting his team in a tough spot at Illinois, but his teammates picked up the slack vs. Iowa. Garza had no field goals in the first half after Robbins went to the bench.
Brandon Johnson tied a school record Friday, but he also set another one with his 26-point performance vs. Iowa.
The grad transfer's 8-for-9 shooting was the best three-point shooting percentage in a game for the Gophers ever. He bested Devoe Joseph's performance of 7-for-8 threes at Penn State on Feb. 14, 2009.
The Gophers' 17 threes came one shy of tying the school record set last season vs. Nebraska. The final one Friday came from Robbins, a dagger that put his team up 98-91 with 27 seconds left in OT.