Iowa men’s basketball players collect Big Ten honors

Kris Murray, Filip Rebraca, Connor McCaffery, Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, and Patrick McCaffery all received recognition from the conference Tuesday.


Matt Sindt

Iowa forward Kris Murray jumps to shoot the ball while Northwestern forward Robbie Beran attempts to block during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 86-70.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa men’s basketball players Kris Murray, Filip Rebraca, Connor McCaffery, Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, and Patrick McCaffery received honors from the Big Ten Tuesday.

Murray was named to the All-Big Ten first team a season after his twin brother Keegan received the same recognition, Rebraca received third-team honors, Connor McCaffery and Perkins earned honorable mention recognition, Sandfort was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year, and Patrick McCaffery won the league’s sportsmanship award for the second straight season.

“I think it’s a great feeling as a coach to have your players recognized on a national level in such a prestigious league,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “You look at the list of players, there’s so many good players, and to have our guys recognized, certainly it’s well-deserved. I think as coaches, we know how hard they work and prepare, and you want to know that at the end of it all, there’s some recognition when you accomplish some things that those guys did. To have so many guys recognized is also a great feeling.”

Murray averaged 20.5 points per game, tied for second in the conference, along with 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 made 3-pointers per night. His rebounding and 3-point numbers were fifth and fourth in the league, respectively.

A season ago, Murray started just one game, compared to every game he has played this season. He nearly doubled his rebound per game numbers for last year and more than doubled his scoring output per night.

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“It’s definitely cool,” Murray said. Just because of all the expectations that I had this year, just being able to have that honor means a lot.”

After transferring from North Dakota prior to last season, Rebraca’s 2021-22 numbers were underwhelming. The 6-foot-9 230-pound Serbian averaged 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in his first season in Iowa City.

But in his second go around as a Hawkeye, Rebraca contributed 13.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. Rebraca’s 57 percent field goal percentage ranked third in the conference during the regular season.

“I’m happy, like I’m proud of myself,” Rebraca said. “But that’s not what I play for. I play for championships now. Like, last year, once I got a taste of it I can’t get enough. So you know, it’s really nice, but it’s not what I play basketball for.”

Connor McCaffery began the season on the bench but stepped into the starting lineup when his brother Patrick McCaffery took nearly a month away from game action to deal with his anxiety.

Connor led the nation with a 4.2 assist-to-turnover ratio while starting the Hawkeyes’ final 17 games and 20 contests this year.

Perkins was Iowa’s starting point guard all season and only missed one contest. His scoring average grew to 12.4 per game following just 7.4 last season. Perkins scored in double figures in 19 games this regular season, including a career-high 32 points against Illinois on Feb. 4.

“For Connor and Tony, just proud of those two guys, how they fought all year long,” Fran McCaffery said. “To see them get recognized and appreciated for all the things they do to help us win.”

Sandfort began the season in the starting rotation but was relegated to the bench after entering a shooting slump early in the year.

Sandfort, who came into the year billed as a 3-point threat shot 14-of-52 from  distance over a stretch of eght games from Nov. 16-Dec. 11.

Sandfort rebounded later in the year to hit multiple late-three pointers to lift Iowa to victories. The Waukee native ended the regular season averaging 10.2 points per game.

“It means a lot,” Sandfort said. “Obviously, I had to battle through a lot of tough times. I’m really proud of myself for the perseverance. I got a lot of people to thank, my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. All sorts of people have been with me along the way, but it feels good. But it’s just another drop in the bucket. Now we get to go play real meaningful basketball.”

The Hawkeyes will begin Big Ten Tournament play on March 9 against either Wisconsin or Ohio State.