Iowa basketball's Kris Murray is out versus Iowa State with 'lower body' injury, return unclear

Chad Leistikow
Des Moines Register

One of the reasons Kris Murray returned to college for his junior year was to get an opportunity be “the guy” for Iowa basketball as his identical-twin brother, Keegan, was before becoming the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Now, in a disappointing development, Murray must go back to the bench due to injury. According to a release by Iowa athletics, the 6-foot-8 forward will be sidelined for Thursday night's home game against Iowa State because of "a lower body injury." At this time, his return timeline is officially unknown. He suffered the injury during Iowa’s 74-62 loss against Duke on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. His left foot was in a walking boot as the Hawkeyes warmed up Thursday vs. the Cyclones.

Kris Murray was limited to eight points on 3-for-9 shooting in 36 minutes against Duke, a 74-62 Hawkeye loss in Madison Square Garden.

Leistikow's column from New York:Duke reveals formula to slow Kris Murray

Murray is Iowa’s best player and catalyst, having averaged 19.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per gave during the Hawkeyes’ 6-2 start. He is shooting 50% from the floor and 37.8% from 3-point range and recently exploded for a 31-point, 20-rebound game in the Hawkeyes’ Nov. 29 home win against Georgia Tech. He had a chance to go to the NBA along with his brother after last season but chose to come back in part to improve his draft stock and be a star for the Hawkeyes, where his father, Kenyon, once played.

With a pro future certainly in the cards for Kris, it would be a surprise if he rushes back from the injury. After Sunday’s 5:30 p.m. (home) Big Ten Conference opener against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes only have two games over the course of 17 days – against Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Illinois – before resuming league play at Nebraska. From that point on from Dec. 29 to Jan. 29, the Hawkeyes play 10 conference games in a demanding stretch.

Whether Iowa is without Murray for a short time or extended stretch, others will have to step up. Junior forward Patrick McCaffery is one of the team's most capable shot creators, from inside and out. With Murray out, he is Iowa's top available scorer at 12.8 points per game. Tony Perkins is averaging 11.7 but hasn't been as effective since a leg injury that cropped up caused him to miss the Nov. 21 game against Omaha.