Iowa men’s basketball set for matchup with North Carolina Central

The Hawkeyes have started to build chemistry through their 2-0 start to the season.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa guard Joe Toussaint sizes up Missouri-Kansas City guard Jacob Johnson during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Missouri-Kansas City at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

One week into the regular season, Iowa men’s basketball is off to a 2-0 start.

The Hawkeyes handled Longwood and Kansas City at Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a new core of starters — Iowa has three fresh faces to the starting five, including sophomores Keegan Murray and Patrick McCaffery, and senior transfer Filip Rebraca.

Although Longwood and Kansas City aren’t high-major basketball schools, head coach Fran McCaffery has no complaints from the first week of action.

“We got a lot of production from a lot of different players, played well at both ends and shared it,” McCaffery said.

Murray has been a strong contributor to Iowa’s starting lineup in his first two games. The sophomore has averaged 20 minutes per game, with 24.5 points on 68 percent shooting from the floor. He has also forced nine turnovers in his first pair of games.

Outside of Murray, the rest of the Hawkeyes have started strong.

Patrick McCaffery has contributed 22 points in 44 total minutes of action in his first two games in the starting lineup. Rebraca, a transfer from North Dakota State, proved he can crash the boards, recording an average of nine rebounds in two games. 

RELATED: Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon nearing men’s Big Ten 3-point record

Toussaint returned to the starting lineup for the 2021-22 season. The junior jumped into the starting lineup for an injured Jordan Bohannon in 2019-20. But Toussaint came off the bench in 2020-21 after Bohannon returned from injury.

Now, Toussaint and Bohannon are on the court in tandem. Toussaint took over the point guard position in 2021-22, while Bohannon moved to become a shooting guard.

Toussaint has improved his jump shot this offseason, making him even harder to defend.

“It’s something I always work on, but now I have the confidence to shoot it,” Toussaint said. “Every time I shoot the ball, I feel like it is going in.”

Iowa’s next four opponents — North Carolina Central, Alabama State, Western Michigan, and Portland State — are all ranked outside of KenPom’s Top 200, giving the Hawkeyes time to gel and build chemistry together before conference play.

With three new starters, the Hawkeyes have been using the nonconference schedule to work out kinks on the court, including communication.

“Communication has not been an issue most of the time,” Rebraca said. “But I still feel like we have some stretches where we lack in that area.”

North Carolina Central, Iowa’s first opponent this week, has an 0-2 record to begin the season.

The Hawkeyes’ matchup against the Eagles could also be a career night for Bohannon in his sixth year with the Iowa program. 

Bohannon needs to make one more shot from the perimeter to break the Big Ten Men’s Basketball record for most career 3-pointers. Currently, former Ohio State men’s basketball player Jon Diebler holds the record with 374. Diebler played for the Buckeyes from 2007-11.

Bohannon currently has 373 career 3-pointers and boasts a 40.3 career shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

The Hawkeyes tip off against the Eagles at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will also be aired live on BTN. 

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