A few weeks ago, Iowa men’s basketball had a sour taste in its mouth thanks to the Michigan Wolverines. On February 17, Michigan handed Iowa an 84-79 loss at Iowa City. Since then, Iowa has won four straight and traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan in hopes of returning the favor.
The stakes were high: Iowa needed a win to stay in the Big Ten’s top four teams and Michigan, one of the “last 4 players” by NCAA Tournament projections, desperately needed a win. marquee win on his senior night. In a game that both teams needed to win, Iowa made the necessary winning plays in stride and got their revenge.
Iowa beat Michigan 82-71 for its fifth straight win and eighth win in nine games. With the win, Iowa moves to 22-8 overall and 12-7 in Big Ten play while Michigan drops to 16-13 overall and 10-9 in the Big Ten.
From the first tip, it was clear this would be one of those nights for Iowa sophomore Keegan Murray. The Big Ten and National Player of the Year contender had his first three attempts, including two three-pointers and midway through the first half he edged the Wolverines on his own with a 13-9.
But he was not the only contributor. Kris Murray provided an immediate spark off the bench. After going scoreless in the first half of Iowa’s last four games, Kris scored eight first-half points and three rebounds. And the Hawkeyes starting backcourt of Jordan Bohannon and Tony Perkins combined for 16 points in the first half. Iowa’s 47 points in the first half is an impressive mark, but it was on defense that they made their mark in the first half.
One of the biggest questions for Iowa was how to contain the Michigan frontcourt of Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate, who combined for 42 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1. Keegan Murray managed Diabate’s mission while starting center Filip Rebraca battled with Dickinson.
The result: Diabate was held scoreless in the first half while Dickinson managed just 6 points on 2-for-6 shooting. Overall, Iowa limited Michigan to 33% shooting in first half. Their 50% overall shooting for the game feels more like Game 1, but Iowa’s double-digit lead was never in doubt in the second half.
As expected, Michigan made points in the second half but Iowa responded each time. Wolverines opened the second half on a 6-2 run and looked to be gaining momentum before Bohannon’s three straight points silenced the crowd. With nine minutes to play, Michigan cut their deficit to 12 points, but eight straight points from Keegan Murray held off their future rally and preserved the Hawkeyes’ lead.
Then, with two minutes to play and Michigan within seven points, three straight Iowa saves and back-to-back baskets from Kris Murray salted the game.
Keegan finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and Kris with 19 points and six rebounds in a sensational prime-time television performance.
Iowa’s Thursday night win not only gave them their second Quad 1 win of the year, but it proved their February race was no fluke, winning on the road against a quality foe with everything to play.
Only one hurdle remains in Iowa’s quest for a double bye in the Big Ten tournament: a road win at No. 20 Illinois on Sunday.