IOWA 80, INDIANA 77: MADNESS

By Adam Jacobi on March 12, 2022 at 5:16 pm
Jordan Bohannon celebrates his game-winning three-pointer
© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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What do you say?

What do you say about a game that was so thrilling, that was so exhausting just to watch, and that was capped off by a shot that will be permanently etched in Hawkeye lore? Where do you even start?

Ninth-seeded Indiana, fresh off an upset of Illinois on Friday and playing its best basketball of the season, took an early 15-3 lead by spamming the "instant Trayce Jackson-Davis bucket" button. Iowa roared back with triples on four consecutive possessions — all by Murray brothers, real shocker there — but IU established a small lead in the closing minutes of the first half and just kept it.

And kept it. And kept it.

Iowa pushed the game back to a one-point deficit on multiple occasions, but Indiana always seemed to have an answer, always finding the 50-50 loose balls in their hands. Chalk it up to physical basketball from the conference's best defense in B1G play, maybe nerves or even dumb luck, but the Hoosiers were always where they needed to be... for about 35 minutes.

And then Jordan Bohannon, the Big Ten's all-time leading three-point shooter and Iowa's best villain in ages, took the whole game over and crushed the hearts of thousands of Hoosier partisans there in Indianapolis:

Boom.

Boom.

BOOOOOOOOOM.

Bedlam. Onions. Madness. Jordan Bohannon breaking all hell loose and delivering Iowa's hardest-fought victory of the season, and quite possibly sewing up a 5-seed in March Madness. For a team teetering on the bubble as late as the start of February, it's an inconceivable rise up the charts — and a testament to great coaching and great play.

Of course, Iowa would have been run out of the building by the quasi-home team Hoosiers had it not been for yet another Wooden Award-caliber performance by Keegan Murray. With Jackson-Davis erupting for 31 points on 15-for-21 shooting, Iowa needed Keegan to respond in kind, and #15 did so con gusto, hitting 8-for-10 from deep and finishing with 32 points and nine rebounds of his own. 

It can't be overstated: it is impossible to game-plan for Keegan Murray, because he can do whatever he wants to do to score. Shooting 80% from deep is obviously preposterous, but Friday's game against Rutgers saw Murray go 0-for-6 for three and still finish with 26 points. Murray finds his points in the flow of the game, at all points of the shot clock and from anywhere inside 30 feet, and that's what'll make him a dynamite scorer in the pros as well.

Still, for all of Murray's heroics, IU started extending its lead later in the game, and the Hoosiers had a 67-58 lead and the ball with five minutes to go. Iowa needed something close to perfection to make the game competitive, and what Iowa got... was something close to perfect.

With 4:54 left in the game, Keegan Murray stole a pass and converted that three-pointer in the video above. That kicked off a closing stretch where the Hawkeyes converted on eight of their last nine possessions for 22 points — the only empty one an absolute howler of a backcourt turnover that helped Indiana tie the game back up with 31 seconds left. Fortunately, all the mistake did was make the legend of Jordan Bohannon — and IU's heartbreak — all the greater.

Kudos also to Patrick McCaffery, shaking off the last vestiges of illness and a hip injury to add 12 of his 16 points after halftime. Tony Perkins persevered after a rough first half and added all of his team-high five assists after the break, and his defense helped keep Iowa in the game until Bohannon's heroics.

Iowa now sits at 25-9, tied for the most wins of the Fran McCaffery era and a mark that hasn't been topped since the 1987 crew went 30-5 in Dr. Tom's first season. And there's at least two games yet to come. Hopefully plenty more.

It's magical, exhilarating, joyous and so much damn fun to witness. We can't even imagine what it's like for the guys on the team. So let's enjoy this while we've got it. And let's move our damn feet.

GO IOWA AWESOME.

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