Keegan Murray scored 29 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks in 21 minutes, Payton Sandfort added in 19 points, 3 rebounds and a block and assist each off the bench on 5-7 from 3 point range, as the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0) defeated the Western Michigan Broncos (1-3) 109-61 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Joining Sandfort in the solid performers off the bench column was Tony Perkins, who dropped 15 points and 2 steals on 5-6 shooting, and Kris Murray, who scored 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Joe Toussaint added in 6 points, 4 points and 3 steals, while Jordan Bohannon scored 5 points and had 3 steals of his own.
This may come as a shocker to you, but it was the Keegan Murray show right from the tip, as he personally started the game scoring all of Iowa’s first 17 points, which came off of 8 Broncos turnovers.
Despite forcing a couple early shot clock violations on the Broncos, Iowa wasn’t able to jump out to quite the early lead they did in their last matchup, only leading 10-6 after 7 minutes of the first half had elapsed as everyone in gold not named Keegan Murray was ice cold from the field.
And yet, it was enough, as Murray continued his one man show on both ends of the floor, including some big blocks defensively, getting Iowa out to a 17-8 lead with 11:03 remaining in the half, before Payton Sandfort hit a midrange jumper to stop the non-Murray scoring drought.
From there, more Hawkeyes got involved, including Tony Perkins, both from deep and in the lane, and Kris Murray again as well, and the Hawkes got out to a 41-15 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the half, capped off by a tenacious dunk in transition from Perkins, continuing a solid streak of games from the sophomore:
The Hawks ended the half up 49-20, with Murray having 22 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks...in 15 minutes of play.
The damage was done from there, so let’s get into other random takeaways from the game as a whole:
- It was a solid night of defense from the Hawkeyes overall. Great pressure in the lanes leading to another solid night on the fast break, which allowed 15 of Western Michigan’s 24 t turnovers to come on steals
- I remain unsure about FIlip Rebraca. I am more than willing to give him more time, because he’s new to the program, and he moves across the floor well, but he doesn’t seem to be aggressive with the ball. Obviously he doesn’t need to put up Luka Garza numbers, but I’d like to see him emerge as a second option when Keegan inevitably faces more pressure in conference play
- I was a bit worried about Tony Perkins in the first few games, but he has really started to develop in the last three games, and I’m really liking what I’m seeing from him. He’s extremely athletic and can create his own shots in the lane and from deep. Give him more minutes.
- On that note, I’ve also been extremely impressed with Payton Sandfort coming off the bench. The dude can shoot and it’s clear that he’s ready to play at the college level.
Which takes me to my next point...
- It’s clear that this team runs a lot smoother with the young guys on the floor. It’s just fact. Bohannon had an above-average night (by his standards) defensively, but for nearly 10 minutes of the first half, Keegan was the only Hawk scoring. In comes Sandfort, Perkins, and Kris, and all the sudden the team is off to the races. The results speak for themselves. It’s good to have bench production, but I think a starting lineup shakeup would be completely appropriate...and y’all know who I’m replacing.
- I think there’s reason for optimism with this team given how weak the Big Ten appears to be, but I’m still going to play it cautious. I’m really interested to see this matchup against Virginia, who will almost certainly come out with a plan — and the best chance yet — to actually guard Keegan. How the team gameplans that — and whether Keegan can just barrel through the defensive attention anyway — will determine how far this team can go.