Murray twins shine in Iowa men’s basketball team’s season-opener

Keegan and Kris Murray scored a combined 40 points in Iowa’s 106-73 win over Longwood University Tuesday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Keegan Murray shoots a 3-pointer during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Longwood at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Murray shot 8-10 from the field with 24 points.The Hawkeyes defeated the Lancers 106-73.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa men’s basketball soundly defeated Longwood University, 106-73, Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa was led by sophomore forward Keegan Murray, who dropped 24 points on the Lancers.

Murray only played for 17 minutes, but he shot an efficient 8-of-10 from the floor. He made three of his four attempts from 3-point range and buried all five of his shots from the foul line.

This season is Murray’s first in Iowa’s starting lineup. Last year, he played about 18 minutes per game as the Hawkeyes’ sixth man. While Murray earned most of his minutes off the bench last season, he still drew a few starts as the Hawkeyes’ dealt with injuries.

Murray averaged 7.2 points and five rebounds per game in 2021. His efforts were good enough to help him receive All-Big Ten freshman team recognition.

Murray contributed in multiple ways in the Hawkeyes’ win over the Lancers Tuesday, pulling in seven boards.

“He’s been pretty consistent shooting it, driving it, and protecting the rim in traffic,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He does it all with seemingly no fanfare, no emotion, but he’s really concentrating out there.”

Murray scored 22 of his 24 total points in the first half. The 6-foot-9 Iowan attributed his hot start and solid season-opening performance to the work he put in during the offseason.

“All the work I put in this offseason has really helped my confidence,” Murray said. “This year, if I can keep my confidence up all the time, then I can be more successful.”

Murray’s impact stretched beyond the offensive end of the floor Tuesday too. He blocked five shots on the defensive side of the hardwood.

Murray was a key cog in an Iowa defense that looked stingy against Longwood. The Lancers shot just 34 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 12 times.

“I was just being smart,” Keegan Murray said of his defensive effort. “Doing the scout is really important, seeing what guys’ tendencies are going up for layups. I just want to keep that mindset throughout the season and stop fouling. I think going straight up will help me out.”

Keegan wasn’t the only Murray to dominate Tuesday either. His twin brother Kris — who played just 1.32 minutes per game last season — scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting against the Lancers. Kris Murray was on the floor for 17 total minutes.

Kris and Keegan Murray and Connor McCaffery tied for the Hawkeyes’ team-high in rebounding versus the Lancers. Connor McCaffery and each of the Murray twins pulled in seven rebounds apiece.

“It’s big for him,” Keegan Murray said of his brother Kris’ performance. “Just getting him in live action and him playing well, especially at the start of the season, I think that’s really helped his confidence. Last year, he obviously didn’t get on the court much. So, I just think him coming in this first game and having a great game will really help throughout the season.”

Iowa’s next game will come Friday at 7:01 p.m. The Hawkeyes will take on the 0-1 Kansas City Roos at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Kansas City lost its season-opener to Minnesota, 71-56, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis Tuesday. Iowa and Minnesota are the only Big Ten teams Kansas City is scheduled to play in 2021-22.

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