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Takeaways from Iowa’s 86-69 win against NC Central

Keegan Murray does it again, but two bench guards were the difference

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Three games, three career highs for Keegan Murray.

He added to his 27 points with a 21 rebound outburst as the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) struggled to put away the NC Central Eagles (0-3) before pulling away for the 86-69 win.

It was a less prolific game for everyone else but most notably, Jordan Bohannon. After coming in just one three pointer behind Jon Diebler for the all-time record, he’s now tied for the record after a 1-10 night. He missed his final eight shots.

Patrick McCaffery, Tony Perkins (!), and Ahron Ulis (!!) joined Murray in double figures with 15, 13, and 12 points, respectively.

What more is there to say about Keegan Murray

Despite his least efficient game from the floor - 9/19 - the sophomore impacted the game all over the place. He had the 21 rebounds - nine came on the offensive end - but also added 4 blocks and a couple assists. Perhaps his most important sequence was a defensive rebound-turned assist as he found Tony Perkins for a wonky shot at the other end amidst a 9-0 run which put the Eagles away.

Fran McCaffery also deployed him at the top of the press and it found success as well.

Iowa has not had a player like Murray during Fran’s time in Iowa City - the last 20-rebound game was Greg Brunner - and you probably have to go way before that to find someone who can do everything on the court like Keegan did tonight. (My guess is the last 20/20 game was Acie Earl) Perhaps most importantly, in a game where the Hawks struggled to put an opponent away, Murray was clean from the free throw line at 9/10.

my guess is wrong

Fran stuck with what was working

It was easy to look at the first two games and feel comfortable with the starters and the success they had in establishing early leads Longwood and UMKC could never credibly cut into. Yet they were thrown off early with Filip Rebraca’s two quick fouls and consistently allowed NC Central to get into the lane. They finished the night 18/34 from the lane as Iowa struggled with their 5-out dribble driving.

Enter the lineup of Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Connor McCaffery, Keegan Murray, and Filip Rebraca. Ulis and Perkins were particularly good in relief of Iowa’s starting back court. The pair used their length to keep the Eagles at bay, with four steals between them. They were also assertive offensively, with Perkins making a couple first half threes and using his athleticism in transition to finish with 13. Ulis’ 12 was primarily a function of savvy in the lane and getting to the free throw line. The two finished with the team’s highest +/- rating.

They entered at 13:05 and stretched the lead from 2 to 12 at the under 4 timeout. With the depth Iowa has, Fran can lean on the hot hand one night because someone else might be hot the next night.

Free throws matter

Iowa has regularly made getting to the line an emphasis of their offense and without their efficiency tonight, the Hawks might not have come away with it. They were 35/41 - 85.4% - from the stripe as they forced 30 NC Central fouls, including 2 foul outs. NC Central finished just 8/12.

On a night where the three was not falling (5/23), it’s good to know Iowa can manufacture points in that fashion. (Though to be fair it, some of those fouls probably evaporate with #BigTenRefs

We’ll have to wait for a record to get broken

After Bohannon made his three inside of a minute, it felt like all but a formality for the record to fall tonight. After all, his whole family was there, newborn nephew included. Unfortunately, the lid was on the hoop as he seemed to get tighter and tighter with each miss.

It was reminiscent of Luka Garza’s air balled free throw which would have eclipsed Roy Marble’s career scoring mark. Weird things happen sometimes.

Next up: Alabama St. Hornets on Thursday, 11/18 at 6p