Iowa men’s basketball took down Indiana, 83-74, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night behind sophomore forward Kris Murray’s career-high 29 points.
Murray scored 17 first-half points, which matched his season-high for a full game.
Kris Murray used to outscore his brother, Keegan, regularly during the twins’ prep school days at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids. Then, Keegan became the leading scorer in the country during the 2021-22 men’s college basketball season, averaging 23.9 points per game.
Thursday night marked a blast from the past.
While Keegan scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, Kris made 12 field goals and shot 66 percent from the floor. Kris also grabbed a team-high 11 boards for his first double-double of the season.
Early foul trouble gave Kris, the first player off the bench, an opportunity to shine.
“I didn’t anticipate [the starters] getting in foul trouble so early,” Kris said postgame. “But it’s just man up, and I was ready for this game, and I was ready to be aggressive on the offensive and defensive end.”
Kris also had three steals and three blocks to tie for the Hawkeye lead in both categories.
Head coach Fran McCaffery said a more relaxed mindset has aided Kris in being more effective — not only on Thursday night, but in his last few appearances.
“The thing that I thought for him that has changed, you know, he plays through any mistakes he makes,” McCaffery said of Kris. “He used to really worry about that. I kept telling him to just hoop. Just shoot it, drive it. If you turn it over, run back and block a shot, get a rebound. Don’t let it linger on you.
“But the thing that I think was really critical, I mean, he protected the rim, he’s hitting threes, he’s driving the ball,” McCaffery added. “I mean, in the first half, we had five offensive rebounds. He had them all. He ended up with 6 [offensive rebounds] and 11 [total] rebounds. I’m just really, really proud of him.”
With the victory, the Hawkeyes improved to 12-4 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten. Iowa is also 10-1 on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena hardwood this season.
The Hoosiers are No. 25 in the KenPom overall rankings, potentially bolstering Iowa’s NCAA Tournament resume.
On the boards
After Iowa lost to Wisconsin on Jan. 6, McCaffery said rebounding would be a big focus leading up to the Hawkeyes’ contest against the Hoosiers on Thursday.
And that focus paid off.
The Hawkeyes outrebounded the Hoosiers, 35-31. Before Thursday’s action, Indiana was the Big Ten’s third-best rebounding team, while Iowa was ninth in the conference standings.
“Winning the rebounding battle was a huge emphasis for us this week, especially against this team. We just gotta crash the glass because those opportunities are gonna be there,” Kris Murray said. “And we outrebounded them by four, which was a big difference in the game. And offensive rebounds are huge either way, because you get kick-out threes or have easy baskets at the rim, so we just have to maximize those.”
McCaffery said he liked his team’s toughness on the glass and his players’ willingness to get dirty in the paint was a key to victory.
“[I liked] how we fought,” McCaffery said of his team’s rebounding performance. “A lot of guys were in there mixing it up. it up. We had some situations where we needed to get a stop and we got it.”
Iowa outrebounded Indiana, 22-15, in the second half, leading to a 10-1 advantage in second-chance points over that span.
Bohannon reaches milestones
Senior guard Jordan Bohannon made his 400th career 3-pointer Thursday night. He attempted seven from distance, making one. He’s now attempted 1,003 3-pointers on his collegiate career.
Bohannon finished Thursday’s game with 11 points.
The Hawkeyes will travel to Minneapolis to take on the 10-4 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The matinee will be the first of two meetings between Iowa and Minnesota this season.