#25 Iowa 100, Omaha 64: The Kris Murray Game

By RossWB on November 21, 2022 at 10:31 pm
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The day started with Iowa basketball slipping into the new AP rankings, landing at #25 in this week's poll, courtesy their 3-0 start (which included an impressive 83-67 clobbering of Seton Hall on the road last week). The day ended with Kris Murray scoring a career-high 30 points and helping Iowa absolutely blast Omaha to smithereens in an exactly-as-easy-as-it-looked 100-64 victory. 

I think we have to start with Kris Murray because he was the story of the game and definitely the story of the first half. Look at that stat line: 

Murray was all of Iowa's offense to start the game, when he had 14 of Iowa's first 17 points and 17 of their first 22 points. He was absolutely feeling it. 

The whole arsenal was working for Murray in that first half. He was swishing three-pointers (3/4) and attacking the rim to score easy buckets near the rim... oh, and doing a little damage in transition too: 

Just unstoppable stuff from Murray. Which was fortunate because his monster half was the difference between an easy Iowa blowout win and an annoyingly tight game with an overmatched opponent. Iowa led 49-28 at half, but Murray had over half of Iowa's points. Non-Murray Hawkeyes shot just 7/17 in the first half (3/8 from 3-point range, 3/6 at the free throw line) and that figure doesn't really account for their improved shooting later in the first half. For a while in the first half, Iowa really was just the Kris Murray Show.

Murray had a much quieter second half (just five points on 2/4 shooting), but it didn't matter because his teammates had fully woken from their shooting slumbers by that point and chipped in 46 points to keep the blowout chugging along. As a team, Iowa shot 51% in the second half and 43% from 3-point range (6/14). It was a much more balanced scoring effort, though, with Patrick McCaffery leading Iowa with 10 second half points, followed by Connor McCaffery and Josh Dix with nine points apiece off the bench and Payton Sandfort with eight points. You love to see a rout with everyone chipping in. 

For the game, Patrick McCaffery led the non-Murray Hawkeyes with 16 points, followed by Connor McCaffery with 12 points. Filip Rebraca had eight points and eight rebounds, Josh Dix had nine points, and Payton Sandfort had eight points and six rebounds. Sandfort shot just 3/11 for the game, though he was 3/6 in the second half. Notably absent from this box score: Tony Perkins, who sat out this game to rest a reported leg injury. Hopefully Perkins will be healthy in time to play in Iowa's game against Clemson on Friday, but we'll have to wait and see. 

In Perkins' absence, Ahron Ulis got the start and he finished with seven points (on 2/5 shooting, 2/4 3FG), four assists, a steal, and just one turnover. He did a pretty solid job of running the Iowa offense without Perkins on the floor. 

Iowa's defense also did a good job of disrupting the Mavericks and contesting shots; Omaha shot just 44% from the floor in the game, including a truly miserable 21% (3/14) from 3-point range. A bit of that was them just missing shots, but Iowa deserves credit for forcing them into bad looks, denying them offensive rebounds (only seven all game for Omah), and altering shots without committing fouls (only 12 for the game, leading to just eight free throws). 

Of course, this was yet another cupcake for Iowa hoops as part of an early season schedule that, Seton Hall aside, has been filled with more sugar rushes than a four year-old's birthday party. Omaha was a particularly lousy team (per KenPom, the worst of Iowa's first four opponents, narrowly edging out Bethune-Cookman for that "honor") and Iowa handled them in exactly the way you'd want to see them roll over a bad team. The "bad team" portion of Iowa's schedule is over for the time being, though, and games Clemson, TCU/Cal, Georgia Tech, Duke, Iowa State, and Wisconsin loom over the next few weeks. Time to trade the cupcakes for some meats and vegetables and see how Iowa handles a full meal. 

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