Another Keegan Murray gem, early bench spark lead Iowa basketball past Western Michigan
After their 86-69 win over North Carolina Central, Iowa forward Keegan Murray said that he feels like he has to "do his part", which is playing aggressively on offense and defense. He did just that in Iowa's 109-61 win over Western Michigan on Monday night. In fact, he outscored the Broncos by himself in the first half.
It took nearly 10 minutes for another Iowa starter to score on Monday night, by then Murray had 17 points and Western Michigan had eight. He outscored the Broncos 22-20 in the first half on his way to another career-high points output with 29 on 13 shots with six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Despite only 17 points total from the other four starters, the Hawkeyes (5-0) dominated the game. They shot 53 % from the field with another strong showing from three-point range with 46%. So far this year they've been the best in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (82%) and improved on that number with a 91% output on Monday.
Where the starters lacked in production tonight, the bench made up for with their strongest showing of the season.
Up 23-13 with a little under eight minutes in the first half, the usual second unit: Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, Connor McCaffery (who got the start) and Kris Murray checked in. Their ensuing 18-4 run put the game away right before halftime. Sandfort finished with 19 points, Perkins scored 15 and Ulis had eight assists.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes put forth an effort that will make head coach Fran McCaffery proud. Overall, Iowa held Western Michigan to just 38 % shooting from the field the second lowest points allowed total of the year.
The most impressive figure was Iowa's aggressiveness on defense turned into offense, the Hawkeyes dominated the points off turnovers by a 36-6 margin, forcing 24 turnovers with 15 steals and six blocks.
Without regular starter Patrick McCaffery and bench piece Josh Ogundele, Iowa put forth their most dominating performance of the season. One more tune up game to go: Friday at home against Portland State before an important road game on November 29 against Virginia.
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.