A ferocious second half effort allowed the Iowa Hawkeyes to overcome an early 22-4 deficit to defeat the Indiana Hoosiers 91-89 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The win puts Iowa at 9-6 on the year, and 1-3 in Big Ten Play, with an appearance at the NCAA Tournament still in play...for now.
It was a complete team effort from the Hawkeyes, playing without Patrick McCaffery, who is taking a leave of absence from the team to deal with anxiety. Kris Murray played his best game of the season, thanks in large part to a huge second half, tallying 30 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and a key block to seal the win. Filip Rebraca continued his strong season as well, with a 19 point, 10 rebound performance, Connor McCaffery scored 16 points thanks in large part to going 6-6 from the free throw line, Tony Perkins seemed to at least partially bust out of his slump, scoring 10 points and adding 4 rebounds and assists apiece, and Payton Sandfort even contributed 10 off the bench, including his first made shot from deep in conference play.
The Hoosiers started the game by quickly attacking Iowa at the rim, drawing an immediate and-1 on the first play of the game. The Hawkeyes responded with a basket by Rebraca, but the Hoosiers rolled from there. With their backs against the wall, Iowa started to cut into the lead thanks to Sandfort’s first 3-pointer in conference play, cutting the Indiana lead to 28-13, but Fran was called for a technical that killed Iowa’s momentum.
To their credit, Iowa did not roll over, going on an 11-0 run at the midway point of the half to cut Indiana’s lead to 35-26, thanks largely to timely 3-pointers from Murray and McCaffery, and a great turnover and and-1 from Perkins.
But the Hoosiers were able to respond to every Hawkeye threat, immediately getting the lead back up to as many as 13. Then, Perkins awoke from his slumber, leading Iowa to cutting the lead down to 5 in the final two minutes of the half — even with McCaffery on the bench — as part of a 6-0 scoring run.
The response? Indiana getting the lead back to 8 thanks to a blatantly disregarded basket interference call by the officials. An Indiana offensive rebound later, and it was back to a double-digit Hoosier lead, as the game entered halftime 50-40, a season-high scoring number in a half for IU.
The second half started with the teams trading baskets to start things off, with Iowa managing to cut the lead to 8 thanks to a huge 3-pointer from Murray, who showed much more aggressiveness in the second half, and as the Hoosiers went ice-cold from the field. As he led Iowa on a 7-0 run, Murray’s 9 second half points outscored all of Indiana’s 7. After a timeout, McCaffery hit a 3, and suddenly, Iowa’s once 22 point deficit was down to 1.
Iowa jumped out to a 4 point lead, but the Hoosiers stayed right with them, never letting the lead get to more than 3, and forcing multiple turnovers, before regaining a 2-point lead with 8:08 to play. The teams battled back-and-forth from there, until Jackson-Davis got involved on both ends of the floor to help give Indiana back a 4-point lead.
Despite Indiana getting back out to a 6 point lead, Iowa was once again able to go up by 2 with two minutes to play thanks to Murray. And yet the officials bailed out IU once again, giving no technicals after jawing between an IU assistant coach and Fran, but the Hoosiers could only make 1 free throw and trailed 87-86 with 36.9 to play.
10 seconds later, after a missed Indiana shot, Iowa called its last timeout, but couldn’t execute on the out-of-bounds play. But Indiana couldn’t convert on the other end either, thanks to strong defense from Conor and a tipped ball from Murray, who was promptly fouled with 10.2 to play.
Iowa didn’t miss at the line, sealing the win, and keeping tournament hopes alive for the Hawkeyes.