By Dallas Jones
IOWA CITY, IA – This matchup brought together two of the best forwards in the whole country in Trayce Jackson-Davis and Keegan Murray, but it was the twin brother of Keegan, who stole the show.
“I didn’t anticipate them getting in foul trouble so early.” said Kris Murray, “But next man up and I was ready for this game. I was ready to be aggressive on the offensive and defensive end.”
From the start it was clear this would be a fast-paced game. Back and forth in the beginning minutes until an 8-0 Hoosier run stretched their lead to seven, 23-16. Iowa’s bench immediately responded with its own run to take the lead back 26-23, led by multiple baskets from Kris Murray.
While it is usually Keegan Murray who leads the Hawkeye offense, Kris Murray put together his best half of the season, with 13 points to that point. Which was much needed after Keegan and Filip Rebraca sat much of the first half with foul trouble.
“We were struggling at the end of the first half,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery regarding Keegan Murray’s foul trouble, “Do I put him back in? I just didn’t want him to get handcuffed.”
Even though the second part of the first half brought out some sloppy play and many different lineup combinations for the Hawkeyes, the Indiana lead was only seven at halftime. Kris Murray led all scorers in the first half with 17 points on 7-11 shooting, along with seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end.
The biggest difference in the first half was paint scoring, as Indiana outscored Iowa inside 28-18. Led by their bigs Trayce Jackson-Davis (11) and Race Thompson (10).
After sitting with foul trouble, Keegan Murray came out of halftime refreshed and ready to go, starting off with back to back baskets as the Hawkeyes brought the deficit to two, 51-49 within the first five minutes of the second half.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, Keegan picked up his third foul of the game with 15:26 left and was forced to sit back down as Indiana led 54-49.
Foul trouble only got worse as both Keegan Murray and Filip Rebraca earned their fourth fouls of the game just after the eleven-minute mark in the second half.
When momentum seemed to be all in favor of Indiana, the Iowa bench stepped up again. This time on the defensive end, collecting ten steals in the second half alone.
A run by Tony Perkins and Kris Murray gave Iowa a 64-61 lead. Murray notched his first career double-double with 24 points and ten rebounds, with over seven minutes left to play.
That run sparked a fire under the Hawkeyes as they extended the lead 78-68 with three and a half left to play. In a game where the starters struggled, the bench unit truly shined.
They rode that wave to the finish and took home their second conference win 83-74. Kris Murray finishes with a game high 29 points and eleven rebounds. Keegan Murray (12) and Jordan Bohannon (11) were the next highest scorers.
“Everybody’s good. When you look at this league.” Coach McCaffery said, “If you don’t have that toughness and can’t execute down the stretch, you’re going to have a hard time winning close games.”
A much needed win for the Hawkeyes as they improve to 12-4 overall and capture an important conference win.
After the game, here is what Coach McCaffery and the players had to say: