Keegan Murray broke the Big Ten tournament scoring record en route to a 19-point, 11-rebound performance to give Fran McCaffery his first Big Ten Tournament title, besting the HATED Purdue Boilermakers, 75-66 in Iowa’s first trophy since 2006.
The win sets the table for what could become his first real signature run in the postseason while at Iowa. This one put his coaching abilities on full display, as Fran squeezed every last drop of his roster to put out fires against a Purdue team that boasts at least three NBA talents.
But he has Keegan Murray, and he’s pretty good too.
Iowa junked it up to great effect in the first, throwing bodies at Zach Edey and Trevion Williams in an effort to rope some dopes. Filip Rebraca, Kris Williams, Riley Mulvey and Josh Ogundele each got cracks at Purdue’s ogres. Ogundele found some hilarious success, like stopping Williams dead in his tracks under his own rim, and knocking down two baskets himself.
The big bodies proved effective but still allowed their opponents to eat a little, as Iowa got out-rebounded 27-15 in the first, and 48-30 in the game. Both Edey and Williams had double-doubles well before this ended, combining for 25 points and 25 boards.
Whenever Iowa needed a basket in the first, it was able to manufacture one out of thin air despite shooting an icy 3-15 from deep. Eight different Hawkeyes scored in the first 20 minutes, and Mulvey attempted a 3 himself, for some reason.
Tony Perkins was the straw that helped Keegan stir the drink as the Purdue closed the gap, and he also had a crucial steal, capitalizing on Purdue’s 9 first half turnovers. That stat helped Iowa take a 35-32 lead at the break after Bohannon and Ivey traded 3’s to close it out.
Edey was gifted some free throws by virtue of being the largest Canadian early in the second, helping Purdue taste its first lead of the game with 17:30 to go. Keegan nailed a 3 the next possession to give it back to Iowa, and 4 straight points from Kris served as a healthy tonic to Ivey’s scoring abilities.
A lineup featuring Toussaint, the Murray’s, Payton Sandfort and Pat forced 3 consecutive turnovers outta Purdue during a meaty portion of the second. The Boilers coughed it up a total of 17 times here, and Iowa turned those hiccups into 14 points.
Kris was eventually replaced by Rebraca, then Ogundele due to foul issues, but Sandfort remained, and he hit two threes in a row to give Iowa a 6 point lead before Ogundele got whistled for breathing on Edey.
There were a couple perplexing offensive possessions that didn’t see Keegan touch the ball, but Iowa’s defense came through when its offense couldn’t, a signature of this team.
With about 6 minutes to play Ivey lost his footing and slipped under his basket in what could’ve been a serious injury. He returned 2 minutes later, and Iowa somehow survived a situation where Ogundele was matched up with Ivey.
Seven straight Boiler points in 45 seconds evaporated what felt like a moderately comfortable Iowa lead with 3:09 to go. Empty Iowa possessions mixed with doses of Ivey led to a brief moment of despair.
But, and I repeat, these Hawks are built different.
After an Eric Hunter 3 brought it to a penny, Connor finished off an old fashioned 3-point play. Rebraca got the front end of a pair the next possession, and Purdue whiffed on its last chance to make it close with a set of free throws of its own.
Williams fouled Perkins with just over a minute, for some reason. Perk hit his shots, gave Iowa an 8-point lead with just over a minute to go, and these Hawks, man.
Big Ten Champs.
Say it with me, boys and girls.