IOWA CITY, Iowa - The comparisons between Kris Murray and his twin brother Keegan are resisted within Iowa’s locker room.
But forward Patrick McCaffery couldn’t resist noticing the similarities between the two Murrays after Kris went off for a career-high 30 points in Monday’s 100-64 win over Omaha at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“How many hard shots did Keegan take last year? Not many,” McCaffery said. “It just was easy.”
And then McCaffery thought about Kris’ night — 13-of-17 from the field, including 11 consecutive makes in the first half. It was so similar to what McCaffery saw last season.
“Kris had that kind of roll tonight,” McCaffery said. “It looked like that for Kris.”
Keegan is in the NBA now, the No. 4 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in last summer’s draft. Kris, Omaha coach Chris Crutchfield said, is about to follow his brother.
“He’s quick,” Crutchfield said. “He’s a good player. He’s a guy that will play in the NBA.”
All of that seems far away for Kris, who realizes the comparison will always be there but also knows he can make his own mark on the Hawkeyes.
“I think people get into comparing us a lot, and he definitely had a really good season last year,” Kris said. “So it would be easy to kind of follow in his shadow, I guess. But I know I’m not the same person as him. I’m doing my own thing at Iowa, and I’m trying to take it as far as I can.”
Kris dropped 29, matching his previous career high, in last Wednesday’s win at Seton Hall on a night when he ignored what everyone around him was saying.
“Nothing bothers him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “There was a lot of jawing the other night to that effect. He got 29, got 30 tonight. He isn’t paying attention to it.”
Kris had his first shot of the game blocked by Omaha’s Dylan Brougham, and then went on his 11-make run. His run came as the other Hawkeyes were missing around him — Kris at one point was 6-of-7 from the field, while the rest of the Iowa offense was 1-of-8.
“We were getting easy baskets early, and Kris is getting, like, a hundred of them,” quipped Patrick McCaffery.
“I think the game kind of set up that way,” Kris said. “I got myself into kind of a rhythm early — just easy baskets, open jump shots, and it just kind of came to me, I guess.”
“We were on our heels trying to guard him,” Crutchfield said. “He’s skilled. And he’s quick. Once a guy like that gets going, it’s hard to contain him.”
Kris was asked if he had ever had a stretch like that.
“I’ve never had a run like that in my life,” he said. “It was kind of cool to just be in that moment.”
The rest of the Hawkeyes eventually followed Kris’ lead. Iowa shot 60 percent in the first half, 55.4 percent for the game. They reached the 100-point mark for the second time this season.
Kris had just five second-half points in 11 second-half minutes. There was no sense, Fran McCaffery said, in letting him go.
“I’d like to have left him in there and go for a bigger number,” he said. “But that’s not going to accomplish anything. I’m not going to get him hurt.
“But he was really cooking there for a while. And the good thing is, we started looking for him, and that’s what you’ve got to do. You got a guy going like that, you’ve got to load him up.”
The Hawkeyes got 16 from Patrick McCaffery, 12 from Connor McCaffery.
But this was Kris’ night, with a big Kris run.
Fran McCaffery said during the preseason the time would come when the questions and the comparisons between Kris and Keegan would stop.
And yeah, this game looked a lot like what everyone saw last season.
But it was Kris’ game.