Keegan Murray Is Doing Things No Iowa Player Has Done In Decades

By RossWB on November 17, 2021 at 1:00 am
KEEGZ
@IowaHoops (Twitter)
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Here's the good news: Keegan Murray was absolutely incredible on Tuesday night, scoring 27 points (on 9/19 shooting, 0/4 from 3-point range, 9/10 from the FT line) and hauling in 21 rebounds in a jaw-dropping display of dominance. 

And here's the less-good news: Iowa needed almost all of those 27 points and 21 rebounds to hold off an upset bid from NC Central. Oof. 

But we talked about the issues with Iowa's showing in the game recap; let's focus instead on what Keegan did in this game. Because he did stuff that no Iowa player has done in decades

Those 21 rebounds? That's the most for an Iowa player in the Fran McCaffery Era, which dates back to 2011. That's more rebounds than Luka Garza, Tyler Cook, Jarrod Uthoff, or Aaron White ever got in a single game. In fact, it was the most by an Iowa player in 15 years: 

Murray had a double-double in the first half (14 points, 10 rebounds), which was actually the first double-double of his Iowa career. He matched those numbers in the second half (13 points, 11 rebounds), which produced a 20/20 game. 20/20 games are not common in the NBA; they're extremely uncommon in college basketball. Murray's 20/20 game was not just the first such game of the McCaffery Era, it was the first such game for an Iowa player in almost 45 years

You have to go back to the legendary Bruce "Sky" King (and his amazing 'fro, headband, and scuba goggles) to find an Iowa player who matched (or surpassed) what Murray did in this game; King scored 31 points and hauled in 20 rebounds to help Iowa knock off Ohio State all the way back in 1977. There have been many great players at Iowa since then -- Ronnie Lester, Roy Marble, Acie Earl, Jess Settles, Andre Woolridge, Greg Brunner, Tyler Smith, Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, and more -- but none of them were able to post a 20/20 game like Keegan Murray did tonight. 

How rare was Keegan Murray's performance tonight? Pretty damn rare: 

Murray has topped his career high for scoring in every game this season: 

We were joking when we made this tweet last week, but... maybe Keegan took us seriously? 

He is off to an absolutely otherworldly start this season, as the numbers can attest: 

KenPom PotY

His play so far is attracting some pretty stunning comparisons too: 

Is Jess an Iowa homer? Yes. Is Jess prone to hyperbole? Also yes. But there's no question that Murray has taken a leap forward this year and the more dazzling performances he produces this year, the less absurd this comparison might seem. 

This is probably where we should stop and point out that Murray's boffo numbers have come against Longwood, UMKC, and North Carolina Central -- not exactly a murderer's row of competition. There are still very open and very valid questions about whether he can produce at a high level against more talented competition. Can he do it against Virginia, Iowa State, and Utah State (the three most challenging teams on Iowa's non-conference slate, per KenPom)? More importantly, can he do it night in and night out in the Big Ten, where the opposing talent will be much better, the games will be much more physical, and the coaches will be scheming to shut him down? Those are important questions and right now we don't have answers to them -- we'll have to wait until December and January and February to see how he responds to those increased challenges. 

In the meantime, though, let's just appreciate the fact that Murray is playing some absolutely incredible basketball right now and doing things that no other Iowa player has managed to do in decades. That's pretty damn cool. Also cool? These highlights from Murray against NC Central. 

And this game wasn't even a full display of Murray's talents. He scored 27 points off baskets around the rim and free throws; he couldn't buy a jump shot in this game, though we've seen him show the capacity to make elbow jumpers and 3-pointers in the past. That preseason NBA Draft buzz that Murray was getting? It doesn't seem as far-fetched now as it did a month ago, that's for sure. The Keegan Murray Show is here and it is absolutely spectacular. 

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