Four Iowa men's basketball thoughts following season-opening win over Longwood
IOWA CITY — On a night when several Power 5 men's basketball programs lost to mid-majors, Iowa shined from start to finish.
The Hawkeyes turned a 23-3 opening run into a 106-73 season-opening win over Longwood. Iowa made 15 three-pointers and shot 55% from the field.
Senior guard Jordan Bohannon contributed 18 points (all on three pointers) and sits just four three pointers shy of tying the all-time Big Ten Conference record set by Jon Diebler (Ohio State, 2007-11).
"I thought we played phenomenal tonight start to finish," Bohannon said. "We were all together tonight."
Iowa's starting five had a strong showing together. Their average +/- rating was 32.4 and all but Filip Rebraca (who took only three shots) shot at least 50% from the field. Coach Fran McCaffery said it started on the defensive end.
"I thought our first group defensively set the tone," McCaffery said. "We scored the ball but when you get up by 20 (points) that quickly it's usually a reflection of your defense. I was pleased with that group tonight."
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Iowa showed flashes of aggressive defense and even more up-tempo offense. The Hawkeyes' next game is Friday against the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which lost to Minnesota 71-56 on Tuesday night.
Some takeaways from the season opener:
Murray twins had career nights
Sophomore Keegan Murray stole the show in the first half with a career-high 22 points in just under 13 minutes. In the second half, it was twin brother Kris' turn as he scored a career-high 14 points and finished with 16 points.
Keegan also finished with seven rebounds and a career-high five blocks while Kris collected a career-high seven rebounds and two blocks.
Keegan played a major role last year and is a projected first-round pick, but this is Kris' first opportunity at major playing time. In game one, he impressed McCaffery.
"I thought he showed that he can play inside and outside," McCaffery said. "He can make threes, he can dribble, drive and create something but also get offensive rebound putbacks. He can be a shot-blocking presence and traffic rebounder. You know, kind of like his brother."
Point-guard play set the tone
One play summed up point guard Joe Toussaint's impact on the game: Toussaint broke up a passing lane and recorded a steal, led a fast break in which he made a cross-court pass to Bohannon for his sixth three-pointer of the game. Toussaint (nine points, four assists, four steals) did a little bit of everything.
Behind him, point guard Ahron Ulis had a solid performance off the bench with six points, four rebounds and a team-high five assists. The Hawkeyes will need consistent performances from them if they're to be successful this year.
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Hawkeyes' defense stayed engaged
Iowa players have emphasized defensive intensity over the last few weeks. And like their exhibition game, strong play on defense led to success everywhere else. Iowa forced 12 turnovers and recorded eight blocks and six steals.
Both point guards earned praise after the game for setting the tone defensively and disrupting Longwood's game plan.
"Joe's point-of-attack defense was a game-changer," McCaffery said. "And the good thing about Ahron is when he's in the game you can keep that up."
A few injuries to watch
Senior forward Connor McCaffery had two separate injuries on Tuesday night. He took a hard fall on his hip in the first half and left the game momentarily. He returned in the second half.
Later, a Longwood player fell on his ankle during a rebounding play. Coach McCaffery said Connor iced the ankle while walking around after the game and that's a "good sign."
Center Josh Ogundele missed the game with a back injury. Fran McCaffery said Ogundele could've played but didn't see the need to risk anything. His status for Friday is unknown.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at email@example.com.