Balanced scoring lifts Iowa men’s basketball over Rutgers

Four Hawkeyes scored in double figures in the 93-82 victory over the Scarlet Knights.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Kris Murray drives to the hoop while being defended by Rutgers forward Aundre Hyatt during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. Murray recorded one assist. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 93-82.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 93-82, Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

After a back-and-forth first 15  minutes, Iowa ended the first stanza on a 16-5 run and took a 45-34 lead into the break. 

Iowa maintained a safe lead until the 9:31 mark of the second half when the Scarlet Knights began a 9-0 run that cut the Hawkeyes’ lead to 68-67. 

But the Hawkeyes never relinquished the lead and answered with a 7-0 run of their own to push the lead back to eight. 

Rutgers wouldn’t get closer than five points for the rest of the afternoon. 

Iowa junior forward Kris Murray led a balanced Hawkeye offense with 24 points. Guards Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins, as well as forward Connor McCaffery joined him in double figures with 16, 11, and 11, respectively. 

“That’s something that we needed to have, especially against a team like that, who is going to try to take away me and then Filip [Rebraca]” Murray said of the balanced scoring. “So having other guys step up and contribute really well today was a good sign.”

Part of Iowa’s 93-point effort Sunday — scoring 35 more than Rutgers’ allows on average — was a 12-of-24 outing from 3-point land, and a 29-of-34 mark from the free throw line. 

“I thought we really, moved and shared it, and then drove it when we needed to,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “But you know, when you’re playing a team that is long and athletic, physical, prides themselves on defense, you got to put it on the deck and get to the free-throw line. One of the ways you get to 93 is you shoot free throws. We had a lot of different guys attacking.”

Although he wasn’t one of the four Hawkeyes in double figures, Iowa junior forward Patrick McCaffery may have hit the most important shot of the night, as he made his return from a six-game leave to deal with anxiety issues and nailed his first attempt.

Patrick McCaffery returns

Patrick McCaffery checked in six minutes into the first half to a raucous standing ovation, then promptly buried his first shot attempt, a triple from the right wing. Carver-Hawkeye Arena erupted again.

“As soon as it came off my hand, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s going in,’” Patrick McCaffery said. “Seeing it going in, and hearing the crowd, it was a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It got me going, and it made me feel great about coming back.”

McCaffery finished with nine points on 3-for-5 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 shooting performance behind the arc, in 13 minutes of play.

Fran McCaffery praised Patrick’s mentality after the game.

“The thing that was most impressive to me was, as soon as he got in the game, he raised up a shot,” Fran McCaffery said. “He didn’t think about it, didn’t hesitate … He did the same thing on the other two [made threes]. I was really happy for him, and I’m really proud of how he’s attacked this issue.”
RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball forward Patrick McCaffery returns to court after missing time to work on mental health
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The Win moves Iowa to 13-8 on the season and 5-5 in Big Ten Play. The victory snapped the Hawkeyes’ two-game losing streak.

“It feels good to kind of get our rhythm back,” Murray said. “We have good opportunities to get big wins. This is the time of year you want to have those. We’re grateful for the opportunity to play in front of our fans again, it’s been a couple weeks. I think we really fed off of that today.”

Up next

The Hawkeyes will be back in action Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, as they will host Northwestern at 8 p.m.

The ‘Cats sit in second place in the conference at 15-5 overall and 6-3 in league play. Northwestern has won three straight games.