Iowa coach Fran McCaffery talks about his team’s win over Indiana
With Tuesday night’s victory, Iowa men’s basketball moves to 11-8 in the Big Ten and has a strong chance of earning a double bye in the conference tournament.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III, Hawk Central
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – In a highly anticipated rematch between Iowa and Indiana men’s basketball, the Hawkeyes delivered one of their most impressive performances of the season.
Two back-to-back poor road performances have Hawkeye fans worried about Tuesday’s trip to Assembly Hall. But the Hawkeyes were the aggressors early on and never trailed in a dominating 90-68 road win.
Four Iowa players scored in double figures, led by Tony Perkins’ 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Kris Murray’s 26 points and seven rebounds. Filip Rebraca added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Payton Sandfort recorded 16 points. Iowa shot 56% from the field and 57% from the 3-point line.
“If you sign up to play in this league, you want to play in this type of environment,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “And you have to want to compete with (Indiana), a team that’s playing really well. The fact that we passed them (by 12) showed how we competed, but you hit 13 threes on the road, you have a good luck winning.”
With Tuesday’s win, Iowa moves to 19-11 overall, 11-8 in Big Ten play and is in position for a strong end to the regular season.
“I feel like we’re really hitting our stride,” Murray said. “It feels like we’ve kept the momentum going since (Saturday’s win over Michigan State) and around this time last year we were doing the same thing: winning big games on the road. I think we are adapting to the game on the road, what we will have to do in March is important for us. We really wanted this win just for that.”
Kris Murray and Tony Perkins set the tone offensively for Iowa
Tony Perkins performance sparked Iowa basketball victory over Indiana
Indianapolis native Tony Perkins was the emotional spark plug in Iowa’s basketball-dominating victory Tuesday night over Indiana.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III, Hawk Central
Perkins predicted that Iowa’s hot shooting in their win over Michigan State on Saturday would continue through Tuesday night. And that was certainly the case in the first half, as Iowa got off to a flying start on offense.
“We were still fired up (after the Michigan State game),” Perkins said. “We arrived at training the next day and went there with the same mindset. We lost a few games on the road and we wanted to come with that killer mentality on the road and we did ( Tuesday).”
Murray started the scoring spree with two first 3-pointers that gave the Hawkeyes a 6-0 advantage in the first minute of the game. Seconds later, Rebraca added a transition layup that forced the Hoosiers’ first timeout. Iowa’s past road shooting issues weren’t present in Bloomington, as the team posted a 5-of-5 start from the field and a 3-of-3 start. Iowa led 16-5 in the first media dead time.
“I think they were changing (defenders) a lot more than they had against us before,” Murray said. “Just confusing them with the movement of the ball got me a few early looks. The basket looked really big tonight for me. I needed it, I’ve struggled the last few games.”
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The Hoosiers raced past a nearly sold-out meeting room. Star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis powered Indiana’s offense with 15 first-half points, seven rebounds and three assists. After a series of misses in Iowa, it was a three-point game near the halfway mark. But the Hawkeyes found a spark in Perkins.
The Indianapolis native delivered an emotionally charged first half that ignited Iowa on both sides of the court. He shared words with the home crowd after nearly every basket, controlled the pace of his passing and spoke during Iowa’s timeouts. McCaffery and the players noted that Perkins had nearly 35 family members in attendance. His homecoming performance was central to Iowa’s victory.
“(My teammates) know that when I’m in the game, I talk and I play hard,” Perkins said. “I show that I want to win and show energy and that also locks them in and they are behind me 100%. And I’m the same with them, whoever brings the spark that I’m with. them.”
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The rest of the team fed off that energy and the Perkins/Murray duo gave Iowa a 47-36 halftime lead. Perkins and Murray had 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in the first half. As a team, the Hawkeyes recorded more 3 points in the first half (7) than their previous two road games combined (6) against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
McCaffery noted that it was a byproduct of good offensive execution in other areas that opened up shots, which Iowa has eluded in previous road games.
“We had layups cut back, (Tony Perkins) had space to drive the ball,” McCaffery said. “I thought our ball movement, scouting and cutting with a goal were key. If you don’t do those things, you’re going to have a hard time beating this team.”
The Hawkeyes fought through adversity in the second half and played solid defense
Iowa’s Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca talk about their win over Indiana
Iowa basketball forwards Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca combined for 39 points and 18 rebounds in a 90-68 win over Indiana.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III, Hawk Central
The Hawkeyes started the second half with three turnovers in less than a minute, which fired up the Hoosier crowd. But Iowa settled behind the continued excellence of Murray and Perkins.
“Really unusual start, give (Indiana) credit,” McCaffery said. “That would have been an opportunity to panic and give away the rest of the lead. The fact that we were able to get (the lead) down to double digits and extend it from there is definitely what you want as a as a coach, but the guys showed incredible resilience there and we got the saves we needed.
Murray briefly silenced the crowd with a 3-pointer that extended Iowa’s lead to 50-38 at 18:54, and from there either he or Perkins scored or assisted on the team’s next six baskets. ‘Iowa, which followed after the first turnovers. Within four minutes, a nine-point lead in Iowa swelled to a comfortable 61-40 advantage and the game was firmly in hand.
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Iowa’s last test came at 11:12 when Murray and Rebraca sat on the bench with three fouls apiece and Iowa held a 66-45 lead. A lineup of Perkins, Josh Dix, Payton Sandfort, Patrick McCaffery and Josh Ogundele provided a good few minutes to hold Iowa’s lead to 20 points with eight minutes left when the starters got back into the game.
It was a big moment of the game for McCaffery who opted to retire a pair of starters who were playing at a high level on Tuesday and line up nicely with Indiana’s Jackson-Davis for Ten and Ogundele, two rarely-used reserves lately. time. But he praised them after the game for being prepared when an opportunity presented itself.
“It’s not easy to find yourself in this situation,” McCaffery said. “Josh (Ogundele) got a quick foul but then blocked, rebounded and put up good screens, and Josh Dix is generally rock solid. I expected them to be able to hold it down.”
Despite the overall excellence on offense, Iowa’s defense was perhaps the most impressive part of Tuesday night’s victory. The Hawkeyes gave up 21 points less than their 91-89 win over Indiana on Jan. 5. The Hoosiers (20-10, 11-8) were held 18% from the 3-point line.
Jackson-Davis finished with 26 points but no other Hoosier starter finished in double digits. Guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, who scored 35 points in Indiana’s previous game against Purdue and 21 points against Iowa in January, was limited to just eight points on 4-14 shooting.
And Indiana rarely got a second chance: Iowa won the rebound battle by a +12 margin and allowed just six offensive rebounds. Four different Hawkeys had five rebounds and for the second straight game, Perkins led the team in rebounds (10).
“I needed help with a great player like (Jackson-Davis),” Rebraca said. “My job is to box him, I might not get all the rebounds but I trust my teammates. We’ve seen our guards have long rebounds, I trust my teammates when I have such a big stain.”
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What does Tuesday night’s win mean for Iowa’s season?
Tuesday was arguably Iowa’s biggest win of the season and positions the team well for a strong final Big Ten standings finish. At 11-8, the Hawkeyes need a Senior Day Sunday victory over Nebraska to stay in contention for a top-4 seed and a double bye in the conference tournament. A win over Nebraska plus a loss by Northwestern, Maryland or Michigan will guarantee it and there’s a chance for the Hawkeyes to finish as high as second.