Patrick McCaffery returns as Iowa basketball thumps Portland State 85-51
IOWA CITY — Iowa continued its perfect start to the season with a 85-51 win over Portland State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday.
The Hawkeyes scored four easy points before the Vikings responded with a three. The score remained deadlocked at 4-3 for over three minutes, until Keegan Murray scored on two free throws. Iowa pulled ahead, then Portland moved within one score.
That was the pace of Friday’s matchup, with the Hawkeyes heading to the locker room at halftime with a 31-20 lead. With each missed shot from Portland State, Iowa began to seperate.
Led by Murray, the Hawkeyes widened the gap in the second half and improved to 6-0 on the season. The Hawkeyes also saw Patrick McCaffery return to the lineup, while head coach Fran McCaffery’s bench continued to pick up valuable early-season minutes.
After a six-game homestand, Iowa hits the road to take on Virginia on Monday and Purdue next Friday.
Murray twins continue to dominate
Sure, it’s still early in the season and conference play hasn’t started yet, but Keegan Murray is playing insane basketball. Of Iowa’s 31 points in the first half, 21 came from him. He did it all without being called for a single foul in the first half.
His production slowed in the second half — two points — but his time on the court was limited to seven minutes. While Keegan is Iowa's show-stopper thus far, his brother, Kris is looking to make his presence known.
With Keegan on the bench, Kris took over where his twin left off. Kris recorded eight points, four rebounds, one assist and one block in nine minutes. He was perfect shooting from the field, going 3-for-3 on field goals and 1-for-1 on from 3-point range.
Patrick McCaffery makes his return
The Iowa forward missed two games with a “lower body” injury but returned Friday to start against Portland State. His first-half was rusty: McCaffery recorded one rebound and one steal in 11 minutes, while going 0-for-4 on field goals and 0-for-1 on 3-point attempts.
"This game is all about...confidence," Fran McCaffery said postgame. "It's making plays and understanding how you can impact the game. And if you don't play for two games, you haven't really practiced, you're gonna be a little sideways."
And then he exploded in the second half. McCaffery scored Iowa’s second basket in the second half with a flashy jumper. In nine minutes of play, he put up 14 points, shooting 5-of-6 on field goals, 3-of-3 on free throws and adding a 3-pointer. He also had one rebound and one assist.
It’s a good sign for Iowa, with McCaffery appearing to be back.
A lot to be thankful for
It’s been difficult for opponents to slow down Iowa in this early season, leaving Fran McCaffery’s squad and Hawkeyes’ fans with a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Going into Friday’s contest, Iowa led the nation in scoring offense — with the Hawkeyes 99.6 points per game average, distinguishing them from their nearest competitor, Gonzaga, which averages 91.5 points.
Iowa ranks near the top of the NCAA statistics in other categories as well, even lesser emphasized ones like assists to turnover ratio. Then there’s Murray, who has catapulted Iowa to the top of the charts, leading all Division I players in points per game with 26.2.
The combination of all these factors have propelled Iowa to a hot start, one that the Hawkeyes hope to build off as the season continues.
Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.