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

The Cedar Rapids native dropped career-highs in points and rebounds in a win over the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday night.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

After a rough shooting stretch in games against Clemson and TCU during the Emerald Coast Classic tournament in Florida last week, Iowa men’s basketball forward Kris Murray said he forgot about his struggles as soon as he returned home to Iowa City.

“Once I got back home from Florida, I just flushed all that out,” Murray said. “I know I didn’t play my best or shoot my best [in Florida], but that’s something I’ve worked on where I’m able to flip that switch and change that mentality. I learned that going through this offseason.”

Murray’s response to a combined 8-of-31 shooting performance in two games in the Sunshine State came in the form of a career-high performance in points (31) and rebounds (20) against Georgia Tech in the Hawkeyes’ first home game against a Power Five opponent this season on Tuesday night. 

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery pointed out that he felt Murray performed well in the tournament despite his subpar shooting percentages.

“He had two double-doubles down in Florida, so I wasn’t concerned with how he would respond,” McCaffery said. “I didn’t say a word to him.”

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball falls to TCU in Emerald Coast Classic championship game

The 6-foot-8 swingman from Cedar Rapids dominated throughout the game, facing double teams and crashing the glass with ease, as the Hawkeyes cruised to an 81-65 victory.

“I thought the really impressive thing with Kris was he had six offensive rebounds in the first half,” McCaffery told reporters after the game. “A lot of guys can get 30 [points], but very few people are going to get 20 [rebounds]. Most guys that are getting 30 [points] aren’t rebounding.”

Murray converted 11 of 18 shots including four of his eight 3-point attempts.

Murray picked up his fourth double-double of the season just 14 minutes into the contest and entered the halftime break with 15 points and 14 boards. Eight of his 20 rebounds came on the offensive end, which led to a significant portion of the Hawkeyes’ 27 second-chance points.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball bounces back, beats Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner said he told his team to prepare for a Murray outburst before the game.

“Kris Murray is really good,” Pastner said. “I told our team that we have to be ready, he’s going to be gunning because he didn’t play well against Clemson and TCU. I knew he was going to be locked in… There’s a reason he was a preseason All-Big Ten player.”

Murray’s stat line is the first 30-point, 20-rebound game by a Hawkeye since Bruce King put up 31 points and 21 rebounds against Ohio State in 1977. 

Murray said his teammates on the bench helped him reach the milestone by reminding him how close he was to history. He secured his 20th rebound as time expired after a missed shot by Georgia Tech.

“Our bench made sure I knew that [I had 19 rebounds],” Murray said. “It was late in the shot clock, so I just went to the basket and hoped that it came to me.”

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