IOWA CITY, Iowa - Keegan Murray started four games last season, but there’s a difference between a starter out of necessity and being a starter all of the time.
The Iowa sophomore forward learned a bit of that lesson in Friday’s 89-57 win over Kansas City at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Murray picked up two first-half fouls, but wasn’t bothered on the way to a career-high 25 points.
It’s all part of the learning process.
“You just have to adjust,” Murray said. “In the first half, I picked up my second (foul), and that’s something I have to learn off of. Just play without fouling.”
Murray had eight points in the first half, but took the game over in the second half, scoring 17 of Iowa’s first 23 points.
Murray had five points in an early 11-2 run that gave Iowa (2-0) a 48-28 lead, then had 10 consecutive points in the Hawkeyes’ 15-0 run that pushed the lead to 63-33.
Murray’s response was something coach Fran McCaffery appreciated.
“He got that first foul quickly,” McCaffery said. “I left him in, there were a couple of situations where he missed some shots he normally makes. But he kept his composure. And in the second half, when we got all of those stops in a row, he was able to get out in transition and have some opportunities. Everyone was looking for him, and he was able to finish.”
Murray dominated the week, with 49 points in 41 minutes.
“I don’t know what to say. He’s just an amazing young player,” said Iowa forward Filip Rebraca. “He just understands the game so well. He makes the right decisions. He’s athletic, he’s lengthy, he can get to his spots. He chooses wisely. Defensively, he’s in the right spots, he helps you out.
“I literally have no complaints about the guy. I love him to death.”
There were no complaints about Rebraca, who had nine points and 13 rebounds while shutting down Kansas City’s Josiah Allick. Allick had 21 points in the Roos’ season opener at Minnesota, but he had just four points and got into foul trouble going against Rebraca.
“I remember these guys from last year,” said Rebraca, who had 30 points in two games against Kansas City in the Summit League last season. “Especially Allick. Of course, I know what he does. But this was a team effort. We tried to limit his touches.”
“He’s a tough defender,” Murray said of Rebraca. “He’s going to do a lot of the dirty work for us.”
The Hawkeyes were 34-of-65 from the field against the pack-line defense of the Roos. They also held Kansas City to 32 percent shooting in the first half, 41.1 percent overall. Iowa scored 25 points off 17 turnovers by the Roos.
“Defense leads to easy offense,” Murray said.
Jordan Bohannon had 13 points for the Hawkeyes. He had three 3-pointers, closing to within one 3-pointer of the Big Ten career record of 374 set by Ohio State’s Jon Diebler.
Patrick McCaffery added 10 points for Iowa.