‘He’s the most versatile player in our league:’ Keegan Murray scores career-high 37 points in Iowa win

The Hawkeyes are above .500 in the Big Ten for the first time this season after a 98-75 win over the Huskers.


Grace Kreber

Iowa forward Keegan Murray dribbles the basketball during Iowa’s 98-75 win over Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday. Murray scored a career-high 37 points in the Hawkeye win.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Freshman forward Payton Sandfort still remembers arriving in Iowa City last summer and thinking he might not be good enough to be a member of the Hawkeye men’s basketball team.

Going up against Keegan Murray in practice every day will do that.

“When I first got here in the summer, I was going against him every day in practice,” Sandfort said. “I would go home and I would call my dad and I’d be like, ‘This dude is kicking my butt. I don’t know if I’m built for this.’ I started getting a little better playing against him. And then I see him out here and he’s doing a lot worse than he did to me. That makes me feel a lot better.”

Murray shucked Nebraska on Sunday, scoring a career-high 37 points in Iowa’s 98-75 win over the Huskers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The sophomore forward shot 15-of-21 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Nebraska scored 25 points as a team in the first half. Murray scored 24 by himself. The fourth-leading scorer in the country’s point total is good for third-most all-time by a men’s basketball player at Carver.

The former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep has scored 67 combined points in both of Iowa’s last two games. The Hawkeyes won by 23 points and led by as many as 36 in both of those contests.

“If I miss a shot, I feel like the next one is going in,” Murray said. “I’m not hesitant at all with shooting the basketball. I try to get to my spots. Try and get inside the paint as much as I can and try to find open shots near the 3-point line.”

Nebraska led 15-11 six minutes into Sunday’s game. Then, Murray single handedly scored 10 straight points for the Hawkeyes. Iowa (17-7 overall, 7-6 in Big Ten play) went on a 42-10 run to end the first half and all but end any hopes of a Nebraska (7-18, 1-13) upset. A 20-3 scoring run by Nebraska in the second half never made much more than a slight dent in Iowa’s lead, which remained 19 or more points for the entirety of the second half.

Three other Hawkeyes (Kris Murray, Sandfort, and Jordan Bohannon) scored in double-digits against the Huskers. Iowa has now won three straight games overall against Nebraska and nine straight against the Huskers inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes are now above .500 in Big Ten play for the first time this season.

Murray has tallied 30 or more points four times this season, the most by an underclassmen in a single season in program history. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder, has scored 25 or more points and NCAA-best 11 times this season.

Against the Huskers, he added six rebounds, two blocks, and three steals to his stat line, which earned praise from the opposition.

“He’s the most versatile player in our league,” Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg said.

Minutes after Hoiberg’s comments, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was asked to expand on what makes Murray so versatile.

McCaffery obliged.

“He’s got a complete skill set,” McCaffery said. “We all know that We’ve all seen that. But I think it’s his demeanor. He’s quietly killing you, essentially. And he never lets up. He runs the floor. He attacks the glass. He rebounds defensively. He blocks shots. He guards the other team’s best offensive player. He scores everywhere on the floor.

“That’s why he’s gonna be a top-10 pick [in the NBA Draft].”