Iowa men’s basketball topples Alabama State, moves to 4-0 on the season

The Hawkeyes won, 108-82, on Thursday night, with freshman Payton Sandfort tallying a career-best 21 points.


Gabby Drees

Iowa forward Keegan Murray goes for a layup at a basketball game between Iowa and Alabama State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. Murray shot 10 for 16. Iowa won, 108-82.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Five Hawkeyes recorded double-digit points as the Iowa men’s basketball team cruised by Alabama State, 108-82, on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Sophomore forward Keegan Murray scored a game-high 26 points, and freshman forward Payton Sandfort put up a career-high 21 points during the dominant Hawkeye victory.

The freshman out of Waukee, Iowa, tallied double-digit points in his fourth collegiate game. His previous individual best was eight points in the Hawkeyes’ season-opener against Longwood on Nov. 9.

“Every game I feel like a certain weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Sandfort said postgame. “I’m just back to my normal form when I was playing in high school, what I’m used to, so getting used to it. Looking forward to keeping contributing.”

Sandfort put up his first 14 points during the first half off the bench.

Head coach Fran McCaffery noted the 6-foot-7 forward’s offensive abilities postgame, as well as what he can do on the defensive side of the ball.

“You think of him as a shooter,” McCaffery said. “That kid’s a player. He can handle it, he can drive it, he moves it, he’s got great field and he’s really smart and tough, physical, defensively because he’s got a frame. We really recruited him hard because I thought he had a chance to really be special.”

Sandfort hit five 3-points on a historic night for sixth-year senior guard Jordan Bohannon.

Bohannon converted his first 3-pointer of the night two minutes into the matchup for the 375th of his career — surpassing former Ohio State men’s basketball player Jon Diebler’s Big Ten record of 374.

But on his historic night, Bohannon took time to recognize Sandfort’s potential.

“I hope he breaks my record when he gets to his senior year, because I think he has the ability to do that,” Bohannon said. “We keep telling guys like that to shoot the ball because it makes our team so much better.”

Sophomore forward Kris Murray scored a career-high 17 points. Senior forward Filip Rebraca and Kris Murray led the Hawkeyes with eight rebounds apiece. Junior guard Joe Toussaint put up a career-high 11 assists along with 11 points in the first double-double of his Hawkeye career.

Big picture

The Hawkeyes moved to 4-0 on the season, winning each of their first four games by at least 17 points.

Though Iowa hasn’t competed against any high-major programs yet, it is showing that it can put up points in a lineup without former Hawkeyes Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp.

The 2021-22 Hawkeyes scored over 100 points for the second time this season.

A program 3-point record

The Hawkeyes sunk 20 3-pointers on Thursday night — a program record. The previous record was 19, which was set against Savannah State on Dec. 22, 2018.

Besides Sandfort’s five 3-pointers, Bohannon hit four and Kris Murray sank three while six other Hawkeyes converted at least one shot from beyond the arc.

The 20 3-pointers ties the Carver-Hawkeye Arena record, which was recorded by Purdue on Jan. 20, 2018.

Patrick McCaffery sits

After starting in the first three games of the season, sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery did not participate in Thursday’s contest because of a lower body injury.

Fran McCaffery said postgame that Patrick McCaffery was sore, but the head Hawkeye expects him to play in their next game Monday.

Up next

Iowa will take the weekend off before facing Western Michigan at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in Iowa City.

The 1-2 Broncos fell, 80-63, to Saginaw Valley State, a Division II program, on Thursday night. Their only win of the season came against Hope College on Nov. 10, and they lost to Michigan State, 90-46, on Nov. 12.

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