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Ahoy, Murray! Hawkeyes 83, Seton Hall 67

Kris Murray tied a career high en route to Iowa’s first win on the road

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Seton Hall Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) were led by Kris Murray’s career highs - 29 points and 11 rebounds - in their first road test of the season, beating Seton Hall (2-1), 83-67 to seal no worse than a tie for the Big Ten in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Tony Perkins added 18 points, five assists, and three steals while Patrick McCaffery and Filip Rebrača joined them in double-figures at 11 and 10 points respectively.

Seton Hall set the tone out of the gate, racing to 10-2 lead as Iowa struggled with rebounding - the Pirates got the first six - and general activity. Murray came to play, though, with five points jumpstarting a 19-3 run where he had seven more.

The Hawks were able to play from ahead the rest of the half as they maintained defensive energy throughout (seven steals among twelve SHU turnovers) and rode the Kris Murray Experience (16 points & five boards) to a 34-22 halftime lead.

The first frame ended with some fireworks as a Tony Perkins layup resulted in a technical after he yelled “and one” at anyone who would listening, including the nearest ref. Filip Rebrača erased a layup with one of his four blocks.

Seton Hall came out with their hair on fire to cut the lead in half as Fran McCaffery cycled point guards in the first couple of minutes due turnovers which led to easy baskets. Murray settled Iowa down with a couple free throws, which was a theme throughout the second half.

He and Perkins both had key free throws or baskets when the Pirates got to within five or six. The retrospective nail in the coffin, though, was a Connor McCaffery three which stretched the lead to 11 with just over 5 minutes left. Seton Hall couldn’t cut Iowa’s lead inside of nine the rest of the way.

Additional takeaways:

  • Filip Rebrača was really really good tonight. First, he avoided foul trouble in a game which featured plenty of them. He had 35 minutes (second most on the team) and a solid first half allowed Fran to stagger him and Kris as Iowa’s “centers.” There was a minute-ish stretch where Iowa rolled out a five guard lineup (something I’m excited to see play out) but it led to a Patrick McCaffery three which Shaheen Holloway called a timeout after cause Paddy Mac was so open. I’m getting distracted but it was a total floor game from Rebrača with the double-double, four blocks, and two steals. There were times where Iowa’s pick-and-roll defense was so connected and his lateral quickness (and excellent help-the-helper from Iowa’s guards) was a reason why. He was a team-high +16.
  • Fran went with the seven-man rotation with Iowa’s starters and Ahron Ulis and Connor as the guys. He came to win tonight with the rotations and the guys delivered. While it wasn’t always pretty - 43% shooting & 31% from deep - but they went without the gnarly drought we’ve often seen from past Iowa teams. They lived at the line, going 28/33, which was giving Seton Hall a dose of their own medicine.
  • Kind of a total team effort even though the rotation was tight. Ahron Ulis wasn’t dialed in offensively in the first half but went 2/3 from the field and 4/4 at the line in the second half. Connor did Connor things (i.e. things which don’t show up in the box score), including some outlets after Seton Hall baskets to Tony Perkins who beat the whole SHU defense down the court.
  • Let’s marvel at Kris again...this was a classic game where another Iowa team might have folded after an ugly, ugly start. But he came to play and looked like the best guy on the court without taking the oxygen out of the offense.