Iowa men’s basketball team coasts to victory over Nebraska

The Hawkeyes built up an insurmountable lead before halftime behind Keegan Murray’s 24 first-half points.


Grace Kreber

Iowa forward Payton Sandfort attempts a shot during the Iowa men’s basketball team’s 98-75 win over Nebraska on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa has been a victim to slow starts during Big Ten play, and has had to come back from early deficits on several occasions. After a strong start against Maryland on Thursday, the Hawkeyes brought the intensity from the start in a comfortable win over Nebraska on Sunday.

Iowa took no chances and put the game out of reach early.  

With the Hawkeyes down 15-11 five minutes into  the contest, Keegan Murray took over the game, scoring 10 consecutive points and leading Iowa out to a 53-25 halftime lead in its 98-75 win.

“That group, we really had it going together and the part that really started it was on the defensive end,” freshman Payton Sandfort said. “We were able to hit shots, get rebounds and really took over.”

Keegan Murray finished with a career-high 37 points in 29 minutes of play while shooting an efficient 15-of-21 from the floor. 

Sandfort put in a strong performance and finished with 12 points, his highest total in conference play so far. 

The strong start allowed Iowa to mix up the lineup throughout the second half. Fran McCaffery dug deep into his bench during much of the second half as nearly every Hawkeye got a chance to come in and get minutes. 

Big Picture

Iowa moves to 17-7 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. It is the first time the Hawkeyes have been above .500 in conference play this season, putting them in a tie for seventh place. 

Sandfort Shines for Iowa

Sandfort turned in another strong performance for the Haweyes coming off the bench. Sandfort went 5-of-8 from the floor and provided a spark from three on the offensive end. 

On top of his work shooting the ball, Sandfort helped Iowa win the rebounding battle. He finished with eight rebounds on the day, including two on the offensive end. A more under-appreciated part of his game, Sandfort takes pride in being able to crash the glass.

“It’s been an underrated part of my game that nobody really notices, but I take a lot of pride in that part of the game,” Sandfort said. 

Winning the Turnover Battle

Iowa averages the best turnover margin in the Big Ten this season and fourth best in the nation, with a +5.83 margin per game. That was on full display against Nebraska, as Iowa caused Nebraska fits throughout the game and won the turnover battle 15-9. 

Iowa’s 19 points off turnovers were a major reason behind Iowa’s first half surge. Junior Joe Toussaint forced three steals and was a major part of Iowa’s defensive intensity in the first half. 

“His defense and his activity during that stretch was really impactful,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s always giving us everything he has everyday, not just on the court.”

What’s Next

Iowa is back in Carver-Hawkeye this Thursday for a big game against Michigan. That game tips off at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN or ESPN2.