Iowa men’s basketball bounces back, beats Georgia Tech

Following their first loss of the season on Nov. 26, the Hawkeyes defeated the Yellow Jackets, 81-65.


Matt Sindt

Iowa forwards Patrick McCaffery and Filip Rebraca celebrate during a basketball game between Iowa and Georgia Tech on Nov. 29, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Yellow Jackets, 81-65.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 81-65, on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

After building an 11-point halftime advantage — leading for the final 35:45 of the contest — Fran McCaffery’s bunch coasted to a 16-point victory.

Cheers erupted for the remaining Carver crowd as the Yellow Jackets’ Terry Lance missed a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the contest; the line was Iowa -15.5. 

The Hawkeyes shot 4-of-18 from beyond the arc in the first half but connected on five of their eight 3-point attempts over the final 20 minutes. 

Iowa was led by junior forward Kris Murray, who tallied career-highs 31 points and 20 rebounds, becoming the first Iowa player to do so since Bruce King in 1977.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball forward Kris Murray bounces back with massive double-double against Georgia Tech after road struggles

Senior forward Fillip Rebraca added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Connor McCaffery’s double-double

Joining Murray, with his first double-double of the season, graduate student Connor McCaffery contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Connor McCaffery, although coming off the bench, as he has done all season, played 31 minutes on Monday, ranking second only to Murray. 

“He’s a glue guy to our team,” Murray said of Connor McCaffery postgame. “He’s a guy that everyone feels comfortable with on the court, he’s a guy that makes the right plays all the time. He found me when I’d have a mismatch … He’s unselfish, just wants to win games.”

Connor McCaffery shot 3-of-4 on field goals — all from three — and added four assists. 

“I just wanted to bring the energy,” Connor McCaffery said. “I mean that’s kind of always what I want to do coming off the bench. It’s a lot different, starting in my career, now coming off the bench. I was trying to bring a little bit of spark, a little bit of edge, I try to pride myself on that … If we need a little plug, come in there and try to fire something up.”

Iowa dominates offensive glass in first half

Iowa out-rebounded Georgia Tech, 44-35, overall, and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to the Yellow Jackets’ five in the first half. 

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner said his team had to pick its poison when defending the Hawkeyes. 

“Look, we’re not a big team,” Pastner said.  “And we got our butts kicked on the offensive glass in the first half. That’s part of the deal when we play our zone. Our zone’s really good because we guard the 3-point shot, which we held [Iowa] to  22 percent from three in the first half, but the issue was, you know, we get stretched, and we give up a lot of offensive rebounds.”

Half of Iowa’s 40 first-half points were of the second-chance variety. 

After some defensive adjustments, Georgia Tech held Iowa to 5 offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the second half. However, Iowa shot 62.5 percent from deep in the second stanza.

Ahron Ulis takes over for Payton Sandfort in Hawkeye starting lineup

After junior guard Ahron Ulis made his first career start when Iowa battled Omaha on Nov. 21 to fill in for an injured Tony Perkins, Ulis made his second collegiate start on Tuesday, replacing sophomore guard Payton Sandfort. 

Sandfort had started the previous six games this season.

“I took PaytonSandfort out of the starting lineup,  and I hate doing that after a loss because I never want the message to be, ‘Oh, you know, let’s blame it on Payton, they’re taking him out.’ That’s not what it was. I thought it would really help him and he came in firing, which is what I want him to do. And he was moving without the ball … I think he was pressing a little bit in the starting lineup.”

Up next

The Hawkeyes will travel to Madison Square Garden in New York City to face No. 17 Duke in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 6.