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Iowa 80, Maryland 75: Keegan Murray, basketball god

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The Hawkeyes notch their first conference win of the season in a back-and-forth matchup against the Terrapins

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A back-and-forth matchup ended in the Iowa Hawkeyes favor as they felled the Maryland Terrapins 80-75, to notch their first Big Ten win of the season Monday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The star of the night was — who else? — Keegan Murray, who tied his career high 35 points and added 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and an assist and a steal in 38 minutes (that’s probably unsustainable). Filip Rebraca had a solid game as well as the only other Hawkeye in double-digits, tallying 13 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, while Joe Toussaint had a fabulous game as well, logging 9 points, 9 rebounds, 4 rebound and 3 steals.

The win puts Iowa at 11-3 (1-2) on the year and gives the team a win over a good but not great Maryland squad. While it would have been nice to run away with the game early, Iowa responded in the second half by emphasizing defense, taking advantage of turnovers and executing the endgame perfectly to put the Terrapins away.

The Hawkeyes got out to an 11-5 lead in the first 3 minutes of the game, forcing an early Terrapin timeout, thanks to the tune of 6 quick points from Murray. It was all Hawkeyes early from there, as Murray continued his torching pace, but the offense as a whole was deadly efficient, finding open men and crashing the glass to get out to an 18-7 lead after the first five minutes of the game.

It seemed like the Terrapins might come back as they responded immediately with a 3, but the Hawkeyes not only continued to find open looks, but also played solid defense as the lead continued to grow to 22-12.

Maryland wouldn’t go away, however, especially when Keegan hit the bench and the second-team hit the court. All offense seemed to go away from Iowa as Maryland switched to zone defense and ripped off an 11-0 run to bring the score to 24-23.’

Suddenly, the Terrapins tied the game, and Iowa’s chance at going away with a double-digit lead turned into a back-and-forth game between the two teams. Suddenly, Iowa’s struggles getting rebounds reared its ugly head. Combined with a sudden loss of production on offense, Maryland built its first lead of the night and went into the half up 40-36.

Keegan Murray got off to another strong start in the half, scoring the team’s first 6 points, but Maryland was keeping pace on the other end and maintaining the lead as once again, Iowa’s lack of defensive effort haunted them.

Multiple times Iowa managed to tie things up, but Russell and the Terrapins seemed to respond every time, keeping Iowa from taking back the lead. Finally, Keegan hit a 3 with 12 minutes left in the game too take back a 54-53 lead, followed by a Maryland turnover that turned into fast break points that brought Iowa back into the lead in a matter of seconds.

Then suddenly as the clock ticked toward zero, the Hawks took back control as Maryland went cold, and Iowa took advantage, going out to an 8-0 run with just over 5 minutes left in the game to get a 10-point lead.

Maryland didn’t want to go away, and quickly cut the lead down to 5, but Iowa continued to have the answers as they continued to focus on defensive rebounds and taking advantage of Maryland turnovers...until a controversial call with Ayala leaning into his defender for a foul on a three pointer brought the lead down to 4.

It seemed that Maryland couldn’t decide whether it wanted to self-employed or chip away at the lead, as the score was notched at 72-68 Iowa with 90 seconds to play. But the Terrapins couldn’t quite get it done as Murray iced the visitors at the free throw line and off the offensive glass.

From there, it was just a matter of fouls and free throws as the Hawks got their first notch of the season in the conference win column.

Maybe not the prettiest of wins against an average team, but it’s nice to get the win nonetheless...especially with a road matchup with Wisconsin, who just upset Purdue on the road, lurking in the near future.