Kris Murray logged 31 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks in an absolutely dominant performance as the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1) cruised to an 81-65 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3) for the program’s 5th-straight Big Ten/ACC Challenge win Tuesday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Murray’s dominant night was assisted nicely up and down the roster. Despite an up-and-down night overall, Filip Rebraca tallied 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, while Tony Perkins dropped 11 points and 3 assists. Patrick McCaffery also had an up and down night, scoring 9 points on 2-8 shooting, but Connor McCaffery picked it up off the bench with 10 points on 3-4 from deep.
Both teams struggled shooting all night, with Iowa shooting 45 percent overall, and only 9-26 from deep, but the Hawkeyes absolutely dominated the offensive glass, outrebounding the Yellow Jackets in total 43-35, which helped them establish the lead in the first half they would never relinquish.
The game got off to a bit of a slow, sloppy start, with both teams only scoring four points apiece after 3 minutes of play, with turnovers abound.
But from there, the Hawkeyes drew out a quick lead, thanks in great part to tenacity on the offensive glass from Rebraca and Murray, and really strong offensive sets and passes to set up open shots. It allowed Iowa to draw up a 27-17 lead, with Murray having 10, but a total group effort on scoring fronts as Connor and Sanford added in 3 pointers of their own to pad the lead. Murray was an absolute force, getting his double-double secured with 4:20 left in the half, and 12 points and 11 boards, and set a new career high of 13 reounds before the half was even over.
Iowa’s ever-growing number of second chance shots proved difficult for Georgia Tech, who also got dominated on the glass on the other end of the court. In total, Iowa scored 20 second chance points in the first half alone, and entered the half 40-29 after a last second turnover by Murray, who was looking for the last second shot, but had it stolen for a buzzer-beating layup instead.
The second half started with Georgia Tech cutting into Iowa’s lead thanks to renewed efforts on the defensive end and glass, quickly making it a 4-point game in the first two minutes of play and forcing Iowa into a timeout. In typical fashion for this game, Iowa’s first points of the second half came on a second chance look. The Yellow Jackets responded quickly with a basket of their own to get the lead back down to four, but Murray came through in the clutch with two consecutive 3-pointers to take the lead to 9.
Iowa’s lead stayed secure at 9 for a good while, until, with 11 minutes to go, Iowa was able to take its largest lead of the game at 60-46 lead thanks to - who else? - Murray. After a stop, Murray then found a wide open cutting Rebraca with a bounce pass in transition to go up 16 and felt like a KO punch for the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech did manage to cut Iowa’s lead back down to 10 with 6:45 remaining to play, but the Hawkeyes, as they had all night, responded, as Tony Perkins gave them a 17 point lead with just under 5 to play, sealing the win for the black and gold.
It’s a solid win for this team, particularly coming off such a lopsided loss to TCU. We’ll need more consistency from the long run from Pat McCaffery, but tonight he wasn’t needed in the scoring column.