By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The 3-0 Iowa men’s basketball team returns home to face Omaha on Monday and is riding a wave of momentum after an impressive 16-point win at Seton Hall last Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey.
Iowa overcame an early 10-2 deficit to defeat the Pirates 83-67 on their home floor as junior forward Kris Murray led four Iowa players in double figures by matching his career high with 29 points and 11 rebounds.
The challenge now is to build on that momentum by protecting the home court against an opponent that is considered a huge underdog.
Monday’s game is a preliminary game for the Emerald Coast Classic, which will be held this coming Friday and Saturday in Niceville, Florida.
Omaha finished 5-25 overall last season and posted a 4-14 mark in the Summit League Conference.
The Mavericks come to Iowa City 1-3 overall, after falling to No. 5 Kansas (89-64), in-state foe Nebraska (75-61), and Ball State (71-61). Omaha beat Idaho (79-72).
This will be the fourth meeting between Iowa and Omaha, with all three previous contests taking place in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes won in 1981 (71-58) and 2013 (83-75), while the Mavericks won in 2016 (98-89).
Chris Crutchfield is in his first season as head coach of Omaha after helping lead Oregon to a 20-15 season and an NIT appearance last year as an assistant coach.
Iowa has three players shooting 55 percent or better from the field: Tony Perkins (.571), Kris Murray (.564), and Filip Rebraca (.550).
The 6-foot-9 Rebraca, who transferred to Iowa last season after having played three seasons at North Dakota, has recorded double-doubles in scoring and rebounding in two of the first three games.
He had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks against Seton Hall.
Rebraca only had one double-double for Iowa last season.
“I feel like a little bit of my North Dakota days where I was getting double-doubles quite often, and I’ve already doubled up on my double-doubles from last year when I only had one,” Rebraca said after the win over Seton Hall. “So, I’m quite happy with that.”
Iowa vs. Omaha
When: Monday, 7:01 p.m.
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
What: Emerald Classic preliminary game
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Iowa Radio Network