IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa men’s basketball team opened a three-game homestand with a, 93-82, victory on Sunday afternoon over Rutgers. Iowa improves to 13-8 on the season and 5-5 in Big Ten play.
Seven Hawkeyes contributed to 8-of-16 (50 percent) shooting from behind the arc in the first half, sending Iowa into the break with a 45-34 advantage.
Iowa led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but a Rutgers scoring run cut the score to 68-67 with just over eight minutes left to play. The Hawkeyes answered with a triple from freshman Josh Dix that stretched the lead back to 75-67 as part of a 7-0 Iowa run.
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 29, 2023
A 3-pointer from graduate student Connor McCaffery with just over a minute to play returned the Hawkeye lead to double digits, as Iowa held on to compete a regular-season sweep against the Scarlet Knights.
Junior Kris Murray was the game’s leading scorer, finishing with 24 points, six rebounds, three blocks, two steals and an assist on his stat line. Murray has reached at least 20 points in eight games this season, a Hawkeye-best.
Junior Ahron Ulis was next for Iowa with 16 points, one off his career-best scoring performance last time out against Michigan State. Ulis has reached double figures in each of the last three games. He tacked on two steals, one rebound and one assist against Rutgers.
The Hawkeyes finished 12-of-24 (50 percent) from behind the arc, with redshirt junior Patrick McCaffery shooting 3-of-3 from long range for a nifty nine points in his return to game action.
McCaffery began a leave of absence from game competition earlier this month to address a mental health battle with anxiety. He received an extended round of applause from the Iowa faithful upon checking in to the game for the first time on Sunday.
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 29, 2023
“It was a lot,” says Patrick McCaffery. “It has been an emotional couple of weeks. Obviously, going out there and getting the love from Hawkeye fans was something that made me feel really great. It made it feel like it was worth it to comeback, and good for me to come back and work through those things.
I am really appreciative of, and grateful for, the Hawkeye fans that came out today. That ovation meant a lot. It was a really emotional game, a really emotional day, and it has been an emotional couple of weeks. So, that all came to fruition. It was great.”
The first of McCaffery’s scores came on an assist from his brother, Connor, to give Iowa its first lead of the game, 15-14, after an early deficit.
Junior Tony Perkins was good for 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal on Sunday.
Fifth-year Filip Rebraca registered seven points and six rebounds, and Dix finished with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the floor through 11 minutes.
Iowa finished shooting 85 percent (29-of-34) from the free throw line and forced 18 Rutgers turnovers on the defensive end.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“Really proud [of how the offense competed]. The interesting thing was, it didn’t really start out that way. We were a little sloppy early. It is not like we were making bad decisions, but we were a little sloppy. They are going to press a variety of different presses, so we were attacking that. I thought we really moved and shared it, and we drove it when we needed to. When you are playing a team that is long, athletic, and prides themselves on defense, you have got to put it on the deck and get to the free throw line. One of the ways you get to 93 is that you shoot 34 free throws. So, we had a lot of different guys attacking, and that wasn’t always perfect, but I think the mindset was what was effective today.”
On Patrick McCaffery’s return
“It was awesome. I would say that I wasn’t surprised, because he practiced hard yesterday, shot it really well and played really well. He looked like himself. I think the thing that was most impressive to me: as soon as he got it, he raised up a shot. He didn’t think about it, he didn’t hesitate. He just pulled. Same thing for the other two [scores]. Just really happy for him. I have been really proud of how he has attacked this issue. He has been very professional about it. He has been a great teammate, and his teammates have been great to him.”
- The Hawkeyes completed the regular season sweep over Rutgers.
- Rutgers’ two highest point totals allowed this season are both to the Hawkeyes (93 today; 76 on Jan. 8).
- Iowa has won six of the last seven overall contests against Rutgers, dating back to 2020. Iowa improved to 5-1 all-time against Rutgers in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
- The Hawkeyes won their 10th home game of the season (10-2).
- Junior Ahron Ulis scored 16 points (12 in the first half), reaching double figures for the third straight game (17 at Michigan State; 12 at Ohio State). Ulis has made a 3-pointer in a career-best six straight contests.
- Payton Sandfort had seven points and matched a personal high with eight rebounds.
- All-America candidate Kris Murray led Iowa with 24 points, reaching 20+ points a team-best eighth time this season.
- Connor McCaffery totaled 11 points and a team-high six assists. McCaffery amassed 14 combined assists in two games against the Scarlet Knights this season.
- The Hawkeyes equaled a season high with 12 3-pointers made (eight in the first half). Seven different Hawkeyes made a triple. Iowa improved to 8-1 when making nine or more 3-pointers in a game this season.
- Iowa forced 18 turnovers, Rutgers’ second highest in a game this season (19 at Miami).
- Iowa improved to 11-1 when leading at the half.
- After missing the last six games (anxiety), junior Patrick McCaffery returned to game action today. He totaled nine points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a block.
Iowa (13-8, 5-5) will play Northwestern (15-5, 6-3) on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Tickets are available for purchase at hawkeyesports.com/tickets.