Another career night from Keegan Murray gives Iowa basketball its first Big Ten win

Down four points to start the second half on Monday night to Maryland, Iowa men's basketball turned to top player: forward Keegan Murray for a boost. The nation's leading scorer and newly named Big Ten Player of the Week scored nine of the team's first 11 points to start the second half and Iowa regained the lead 49-47 just four minutes into the final period. 

The Hawkeyes never relinquished the lead again.

Murray tied his career-high 35 points for his second thirty point game of the season. He also had eight rebounds, three blocks and shot 5-for-6 from three-point range as Iowa (11-3, 1-2) secured their first Big Ten win of the season over the Terrapins (6-4, 0-2) by a 80-75 final score. 

Much like Monday night, Murray's emerging stardom took center stage but he received plenty of help from two other starters who arguably had their best games of the season. Those players are point guard Joe Toussaint and center Filip Rebraca. 

Rebraca set the tone from the opening tip, taking a pass from Toussaint strongly to the basket for the game's first score. Toussaint controlled the pace in the opening minutes with four assists less than five minutes into the game. Rebraca recorded the first double-digit scoring game of his career at Iowa with 13 points to accompany eight rebounds. Toussaint put together one of the most complete games of his career with nine points, four rebounds, nine assists and three steals. 

The Hawkeyes dominated the pace early on, leading by as many as 12 points in the first half but several scoring droughts prevented them from pulling away for good. It was a down night for their bench, who only scored one combined point in the first half. Maryland took advantage of those bench minutes halfway through the first half to close the gap and tie the game, forcing head coach Fran McCaffery to sub his starters back in.

By then the momentum had shifted. Maryland trailed 24-12 with 11:46 remaining but closed the half on a 28-14 run to take a 40-38 lead into halftime. But then Iowa's three-headed monster led by Murray took over the game. 

Jan 3, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Keegan Murray (15) shoots the ball over Maryland Terrapins forward Donta Scott (24) during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Murray, Rebraca and Toussaint combined for 30 of Iowa's 44 second half points. But more importantly, their defense settled in during the second half. Maryland connected on 42% of their three pointers in the first half but that number shrunk to 31% in the second half. Iowa made a late, second half run, a near-five minute stretch from nine minutes remaining to five in which they increased their lead from one to ten points, and held Maryland scoreless during that time.

And for their offensive woes in the first half, Iowa's second unit provided pivotal minutes down the stretch. The bench backcourt of Perkins and Ulis played the majority of the minutes down the stretch, contributing to the team's defensive success. Perkins also added six points, two rebounds, two assists: all in the second half. Ulis played turnover free in the final seven minutes as Maryland tried to make a run at the end. 

At one point it looked like the first game of 2022 could slip away from Iowa, led by their future NBA first rounder, overcame adversity to notch what might be their biggest win of the season to date. And it sets up a major matchup on Friday at No. 23 Wisconsin, who upset No. 3 Purdue on Monday night. 

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