Keegan and Kris Murray combined for 35 points and the Iowa Hawkeyes emphasized defense on its way to a 75-62 win on the road against Ohio State. The Buckeyes came into the matchup 10-0 at home, receiving their first home loss at the hands of the Hawkeyes — the team’s first Quad-1 win of the season.
It looked rough early for Iowa as EJ Liddell bullied the Hawkeyes underneath the basket, but a defensive-focused lineup change, consisting of both Murrays, Aron Ulis, Joe Toussaint and Connor McCaffery allowed Iowa to claw back from a double-digit deficit to win by double-digits instead.
Keegan Murray was of course the star, tallying 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a block on 10-17 shooting, but was held to just two points early in the second half. Cue Kris Murray, who tallied 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block off the bench. Jordan Bohannon also added 10 points, and Patrick McCaffery logged 7.
It’s a signature win on the season for a team that had struggled of late to earn one in conference lay, and essentially cements Iowa as a tournament team.
Both teams traded baskets as the game began, but after the game was tied at seven apiece early, Tony Perkins picked up his second foul and allowed a 3 point play that brought Ohio State’s lead out to 12-7, and it was all Buckeyes — and Liddell — from there.
Ohio State absolutely dominated in the paint, as Iowa basically provided no defensive pressure under the basket, letting Liddell feast. Filip Rebraca looked out of his league against the bigger competition and suddenly, Ohio State had jumped out to a 21-10 lead as part of a 14-3 run.
They have played less than 7 minutes in Columbus and Ohio State already has 8 layups and/or dunks. Iowa defense has been decent at times but not today— Don Doxsie (@Dox5) February 19, 2022
Iowa switched lineups and attempted to ramp up the defensive pressure from there, and it worked. The Hawkeyes ate into the double-digit lead thanks singlehandedly to Keegan Murray, who had 13 of Iowa’s first 18 points and an 8-0 run of his own to cut the lead down to 3, and it was once again a back-and-forth between the two teams.
The defensive efforts of the lineup of Keegan, Kris, Joe Toussaint, Aron Ulis and Connor McCaffery were a key component of keeping the game close. Fran ran with the lineup longer than I thought he would, and it paid off. Iowa even took back the lead at 33-32 with just under 2 minutes remaining in the half. But Liddell had other thoughts, getting blocks seemingly every time any Iowa player tried to drive the lane. And yet, a Keegan rebound found a wide open Bohannon in the corner, who hit a 3 to give Iowa its largest lead of the game at 3, and Iowa headed into the half with a 39-38 lead.
Ohio State started the second half by immediately taking back the lead, taking advantage of the Iowa starters being back in the game to once again pound the basketball beneath the basket. The Buckeyes’ defensive pressure on Keegan really ramped up as a result, holding him to just two points for most of the early portion of the second half, and forcing other players in black to score. They stepped up to the challenge, getting a slim 49-47 lead with 13:40 to play. Bohannon even got a rare foul called on a 3-pointer thanks to the James Harden lean strategy, much to the ire of the Ohio State crowd.
It helped Iowa’s lead grow, as Kris Murray suddenly found his stroke as his brother struggled to find the basket, and Iowa took a 54-49 lead as part of a 7-0 scoring run. Ohio State continued to shoot itself in the foot, coughing up the ball multiple times and giving Iowa easy baskets. Iowa also responded well to Liddell, frequently double-teaming him under the basket, causing many of the turnovers.
And yet the Buckeyes were never truly out of the game. Despite struggling to score a FG — going over 5 minutes without one — they chipped away at the Iowa lead at the free throw line, as Iowa’s point scoring was at a premium without contributions from Keegan.
Until Keegan did...and along with Kris, scored on back to back dunks as part of a 14-3 run to go up 64-53 with 6:39 left to play as the Buckeyes continued to struggle getting field goals.
The run couldn’t last forever, though, and the Buckeyes finally were able to stop the bleeding, but were down 68-57 with 3:40 left to play without any timeouts left. The Buckeyes needed stops and got them, but Iowa’s efforts on the offensive glass were paramount in stopping Ohio State’s last gasp as they cut the lead to 68-62.
But Connor McCaffery hit his only 3 — and only points — of the game, and that was that. Hawkeyes pick up a huge road win. NCAA Tournament, here we come.