IOWA CITY, Iowa - Five observations from Iowa’s 106-73 win over Longwood in Tuesday’s season opener.
KEEGAN READY FOR THE BIG STAGE
Keegan Murray was good off the bench as a freshman last season.
He’s much better in the starting lineup as a sophomore.
Murray scored 24 points in 17 ½ minutes, going 8-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-4 in 3-pointers.
It wasn’t a surprise to Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
“He’s been really consistent since the summer,” McCaffery said. “He’s really concentrated out there.”
Murray had a strong freshman season, averaging 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. But he knew his role would change with the losses of center Luka Garza and forward Joe Wieskamp.
“I think all of the work I had in the offseason helped my confidence,” Murray said.
“He’s going to keep getting better,” guard Jordan Bohannon said.
KRIS IS READY, TOO
Murray’s twin brother, Kris, was caught in a numbers game last season, not getting much playing time.
His first significant playing time as a Hawkeye led to a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
Murray was 7-of-9 from the field, 2-of-4 in 3-pointers, playing 17 ½ minutes. He also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“He made one mistake early, but then he came back from it and played well,” McCaffery said. “I think he showed he can play inside and outside tonight.”
CLOSING IN ON THE RECORD
There were a lot of reasons for Bohannon to come back for a sixth year, but he knew he had those questioning the decision.
“I think there were a lot of people doubting me for why I wanted to come back,” Bohannon said.
He wanted to play a final season in front of fans after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a lot of empty arenas last season.
But Bohannon also wanted to chase the Big Ten 3-point record, owned by former Ohio State player Jon Diebler.
He’s closing in on it after hitting six 3-pointers on the way to an 18-point night.
Bohannon has 367 for his career, four off Diebler’s mark.
“I was hoping to get it tonight, to get it off my chest,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon looked comfortable playing the ‘2’ spot after a career of playing mostly as the Hawkeyes’ point guard.
“It’s fun,” he said.
Bohannon, though, wasn’t a big fan of the 9 p.m. start.
“I think there was one time we started a game at 9:13 p.m. on the East coast, and we got back around 3 a.m.,” Bohannon said, smiling. “I was a lot younger then.”
TOUSSAINT AT THE POINT
When Bohannon announced he was coming back, he and McCaffery wanted to make it clear to Joe Toussaint that he was still going to be the point guard this season.
“I keep telling him, ‘You’re the point guard, you’re the leader of this team,’” Bohannon said.
Toussaint showed he’s ready for that role. He finished with nine points on a night when his stat line was solid.
Toussaint was 3-of-3 from the field, 2-of-2 in free throws, four assists against zero turnovers, and four steals.
But McCaffery liked Toussaint’s defense, especially early in the game when the Hawkeyes opened on a 23-3 run.
“I think Joe set the tone right away with his point-of-attack defense,” McCaffery said.
Ahron Ulis, who had six points and five assists in 19 ½ minutes, was also impressive at the point.
“Their ball pressure at the point of attack is really helpful for us,” Keegan Murray said.
It was scary for McCaffery to see his son, Connor, fall hard on his right hip late in the first half.
Connor, who is coming off two offseason hip surgeries, was able to come back, but in the second half limped off the court with a left ankle injury.
“I don’t think it’s really bad,” Fran McCaffery said. “He iced it, and he’s walking on it. That’s a good sign.”
Connor played almost 14 minutes. He had just three points, but had seven rebounds.