By Dallas Jones
IOWA CITY, IA – A lot of pressure has been put on two players to step up for the Hawkeyes; sixth-year senior guard Jordan Bohannon and sophomore forward Keegan Murray.
Tuesday night, the duo started the year off right.
Iowa jumped to a fast 23-3 start, led by getting turnovers and running out in transition, and would go on to crush Longwood 106-74 in the season opener at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I thought our first group defensively is really what set the tone.” said Coach Fran McCaffery, “We scored the ball of course, but when you get up 20 that’s usually a reflection of your defense more than anything else.”
Keegan Murray is clearly the focal point of the Hawkeye offense and he looks much more comfortable handling the ball and taking shots compared to last season.
Now making three out of four threes in the first half might be a tough mark to keep up, but it is an amazing sign for the sophomore that shot less than 30 percent from 3-point range last season
“For a shooter or a scorer seeing that first basket go in is always a good sign.” Keegan Murray said. “Obviously that led to me shooting more and more and my teammates finding me more and more.
Bohannon started hot and stayed hot, knocking down three threes in the first half alone.
“I was feeling good.” Bohannon said. “I spent a lot of time in the gym this summer, really worked on my conditioning, that something i always pride myself on, now playing the two guard kind of took it to a different level and I’m feeling the best I have felt in my life.”
Bohannon scored nine of his 18 total points in the first half. Murray was the only Hawkeye in double digits at the break with 22. The Hawkeyes led, 56-29.
The second unit is a group that is more of a question mark. Ahron Ulis led the second unit as point guard and put up six points, four rebounds, and six assists in the game.
Another member of that second unit that stepped up was the twin brother of Keegan Murray, Kris. Finishing the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks off the bench.
“It was big for him.” said Keegan Murray, “Getting him in live action and him playing well especially to start the season. I think that will really help his confidence…….so i think him coming and having a great first game will really help him throughout the season.”
The bench unit seemed to show a little more rust compared to the starters. Outside of Kris Murray, the bench shot just 3-13 from three and sputtered to the end of the game on both sides.
“Coming down the stretch, they were scoring too much and we were fouling too much. We gave them 17 offensive rebounds. Those are things you have to get corrected.” said Coach McCaffery
The Hawkeyes won the game 106 to 74 and it marked the 11th straight season opening win for the Hawkeyes. They take the court again this Friday at 6pm against the University of Kansas City in Iowa City.