The #25 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) started slow against the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (1-4) but once the Kris Murray faucet turned on in the first half, it didn’t stop. The Hawkeyes won 100-64 behind Murray’s 30 points on 13/17 shooting.
The two teams struggled to score in the opening 3 minutes of the game but Kris took the cover off the basket with seven of Iowa’s eight baskets - 17 of 20 points - to get the Hawks up 22-11 as they never looked back. He closed the half with 25 points on 11/13 shooting and did it in a variety of ways: from three, back-to-the-basket game, transition, an alley-oop.
Ahron Ulis added seven points with a couple threes before the break as he started in Tony Perkins’ absence (day-to-day thigh bruise). The first start of his career started shaky with an opening minute turnover but he corrected well, en route to three first-half assists.
The second half saw Patrick McCaffery get off to a hot start (10 points & two steals) before it devolved into the garbage time shenanigans we’ve come to expect. There were plenty of really good possessions - where Murray established a new career high and a Connor three assisted by Dix stick out - but six of Iowa’s nine turnovers on the game occurred with the game well in hand.
Here are some other takeaways:
Iowa missed what Tony Perkins brings but his absence was important to build depth. It seems silly to say in a game Iowa scored 100 to say they missed a single guy but there were times where Iowa’s offense stagnated in the first half without a point guard breaking down guys off the dribble. Murray filled that void as Ulis settled in but there was an electricity lacking without him.
That being said, his absence allowed Fran McCaffery to stagger Ulis with freshman Dasonte Bowen who had his best game to date with seven points & three assists. Josh Dix also got some really nice run, finishing with nine points on 3/5 shooting. With Iowa facing six power conference teams over the next three weeks, today was important to build some confidence among Iowa’s bench unit.
The move for Iowa’s backup center is Murray...again. Iowa was getting their lunch money stolen inside as they finished 14/24 on layups and Dylan Brougham finished with seven (7!!!) blocked shots. So Fran went with the five-out lineup for the final seven minutes of the first half which allowed Iowa to stretch its lead from 14 to 21.
Josh Ogundele & Riley Mulvey did combine for 14 minutes in the second half but neither were able to get a field goal.
I think there will be times this season where Connor McCaffery (12 points on 4/5 shooting) is Iowa’s functional center.
Payton Sandfort didn’t let his continued off shooting affect the rest of his game. It was another frustrating night for him from the field 3/11 (8 points) but the kid never quit. He had a sensational assist to Patrick McCaffery in the second half, followed by help-the-helper defense which forced a Maverick turnover. His first basket came on a steal/breakaway layup. He later had a beautiful outlet pass after getting a defensive rebound which led to a Patrick layup. All of this was in the first stretch of the second half after an 0/5 first half. Show the tape to every shooter who thinks they can only impact the game by putting the ball through the net. Every play was winning basketball and something Sandfort consistently plays.
Next up: Clemson Tigers (4-1) on Friday, November 25th from Destin, FL