By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – For the first time in over 600 days, the general public was at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the Iowa men’s basketball team pound Division II Slippery Rock 99-47 in its season-opening exhibition game on Friday night.
What they saw were a lot of new faces and a few kinks that need to be ironed out.
Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp are playing professionally, Jack Nunge transferred to Xavier and C.J. Fredrick transferred to Kentucky.
At times the Hawkeyes scored at will, at other times they looked out of sorts. But that’s to be expected so early in the season.
“I thought there were some good things you want to emphasize,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought the way we came out defensively, the way we moved the ball, shared the ball like we always do.
The Hawkeyes were 38-for-73 shooting from the field and out-rebounded Slippery Rock 56-34. The Hawkeyes also forced 19 turnovers.
Redshirt sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and also led the Hawkeyes with eight rebounds. Fran McCaffery said Patrick McCaffery is finally 100% after suffering two sprained ankles prior to the season.
“He was playing that way all summer,” Fran McCaffery said. “And that’s why I felt so bad for him, because he was not playing that way when he first came back, which is understandable. You’re out six weeks, you’re not going to be the same. He was a little slow that first week, second week a little bit better, last week you started to see it coming. I’m not surprised he played the way he did tonight. I’m happy for him.”
Sophomore forward Keegan Murray added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. The 6-foot-8 Murray also had five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 22-6 lead to begin the game but then went nearly seven minutes without a field goal until sophomore center Josh Ogundele broke the dry spell with a layup with 7:03 left in the first half to extend the Hawkeye lead to 29-16.
The Hawkeyes led 41-18 at halftime.
Fran McCaffery started the second half with his second team on the floor and Iowa roared to a 55-18 lead to begin the second half behind hot shooting from freshman forward Payton Sandfort. The Waukee native scored 12 points, all of which came in the second half, including a stretch where he scored eight consecutive points.
“When I put the next group in they were playing tight,” Fran McCaffery said. “They were a little tight. So what were we upset about? We were upset about nine turnovers and 10 offensive rebounds in the first half. That’s unacceptable. So I started that group in the second half and they were great. 12-0 run to start the second half, held Slippery Rock scoreless for four minutes.”
Freshman center Riley Mulvey tacked on four points.
Graduate transfer forward Filip Rebraca scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting and pulled down six rebounds in 16 minutes.
“My nerves got to me,” Rebraca said. “Which is kind of weird. I’m a senior, but it kind of quickly went away. I just let the game come to me. I didn’t do too much, but it felt good to be out there.”
The Hawkeyes open the regular season against Longwood on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.