MBB Game Notes: vs Illinois

OPPONENT Illinois (16-6, 7-4) at Iowa (14-8, 6-5) 
LOCATION Iowa City, Iowa (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)
DATE Saturday, Feb. 1
TIP-OFF 1:37 p.m. (CT)
RADIO Hawkeye Sports Network

The Setting

Iowa (14-8, 6-5) returns to action on Saturday against Illinois (16-6, 7-4). Tipoff is scheduled for 1:37 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The game is sold out.


Radio: Iowa games are broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network. Gary Dolphin will handle the play-by-play, along with color commentator Bob Hansen. The network includes more than 40 stations that blanket the state of Iowa and include portions of Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The Hawkeye Radio Network coverage includes a 60-minute pregame show.


TV: Saturday’s game will be nationally televised on FOX. Jason Benetti and Stephen Bardo will call the action.


  • Fans are encouraged to wear black or gold clothing for Saturday’s annual “Black & Gold Spirit Game.”
  • Saturday will be the only meeting between the two teams this season.
  • Eleven of Iowa’s 14 victories this season have come by double digits, including Tuesday’s 16-point victory over Northwestern in Iowa City.
  • Fran McCaffery (121) is four wins from tying Tom Davis (125) for the most regular season Big Ten victories in program history.
  • Iowa is tops in the Big Ten and 19th nationally in scoring offense (81.5). The Hawkeyes have led the league in scoring five of the last nine seasons, including the last four.
  • Through 22 games, the Hawkeyes are shooting 630-of-1,375 (.458) from the field, while Iowa opponents are 630-of-1,382 (.456).
  • Forward Kris Murray’s 21.5 scoring average in conference play (10 games) is second in the league. Murray was tabbed midseason third team All-America by Sporting News and is on the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 List. In home games that Murray has played this season, Iowa is 9-0, averaging 23.7 points in those nine home contests.
  • The Hawkeyes are 9-1 this season when making nine or more 3-pointers in a game. Iowa has made 10+ 3-pointers in five of its last seven contests.
  • Iowa is 11-2 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. The Hawkeyes have won 14+ home contests each of the last four years, including winning 15 home games last season.
  • Iowa has made 77 more free throws (354) than their opponents have attempted (277).
  • Kris Murray has scored 30+ points four times this season (30 vs. Indiana; 32 at Penn State; 31 vs. Georgia Tech; 30 vs. Omaha). Murray is one of 11 players nationally with four or more 30-point performances, including one of three from the Big Ten (Purdue’s Edey; Indiana’s Jackson-Davis). He is one of four Hawkeyes to score 30+ at least four times in the Fran McCaffery era joining Luka Garza (13), Keegan Murray (5), and Peter Jok (5).
  • Filip Rebraca has reached double digits in scoring 14 of 16 games, including netting 15+ points in eight of Iowa’s last 12. He is one of seven players nationally to average 14+ points, 8+ rebounds, 1+ blocks, while shooting 57 percent or better from the field.
  • Iowa is ninth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.56), 15th in fewest turnovers per game (10.6), and 19th in fewest fouls per game (14.2) and assists per game (16.5).
  • Kris Murray was named the ESPN Men’s Basketball National Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 5. He amassed 31 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, four 3-pointers, and two blocks in Iowa’s win over Georgia Tech. He is the first Hawkeye to amass 30 points and 20 rebounds in the same game since Bruce King in 1977. Murray is also the only NBA, WNBA, or Division I men’s or women’s player in the last 20 years to total 30+ points, 20+ rebounds, 4+ assists, 4+ 3-pointers, and 2+ blocks in the same game.


  • The Fighting Illini (25 NET Ranking) enter Saturday’s game 16-6 overall and 7-4 in league play. Illinois’ most recent Big Ten contest was a home win against Nebraska (72-56) on Tuesday.
  • Illinois is 3-2 on the road in Big Ten play, with their victories coming at Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Their losses came at Maryland and Northwestern.
  • The Fighting Illini have played one two-possession game this season, falling 71-66 at Maryland in the conference opener on Dec. 2 in College Park, Maryland.
  • The Fighting Illini rank first in the Big Ten in blocks per game (5th nationally, 6.0), and second in rebound margin (27th nationally, 5.8) and rebounds per game (26th nationally, 39.05).
  • Senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr, a Texas Tech transfer and Chicago native, is ranked first in the league in free throws (17th nationally, 109) and second in free throw attempts (26th nationally, 139). He leads the squad in points (379), steals (30), and field goals made (116).
  • Junior forward Coleman Hawkins is tied for first with three others in the Big Ten in triple- doubles (1). Hawkins’ triple-double came in the team’s win over Syracuse. Hawkins posted 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. He leads the team in assists (72) and rebounds (140).
  • The Fighting Illini are shooting at 45.3 percent from the field, 31.7 percent from 3-point range, and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line.
  • Brad Underwood is in his sixth season as head coach of the Fighting Illini. He guided Illinois to the 2021 Big Ten Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearances each of the past two seasons. Underwood arrived at Illinois from Oklahoma State, where he led the Cowboys to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Prior to his one-year in Stillwater, he led Stephen F. Austin to the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles in each of his three seasons.


Illinois holds a 90-76 advantage in the series. The Fighting Illini have won five consecutive in the series since snapping Iowa’s five-game win streak from 2018-20. Illinois swept last season’s two meetings: 87-83 in Iowa City and 74-72 in Champaign.

Iowa holds a 56-23 advantage in games played in Iowa City, including a 21-13 margin in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes have won two of the last three meetings in Iowa City.


Kris Murray’s 3-point attempt from the corner rimmed out as time expired giving No. 20 Illinois a 74-72 victory over No. 24 Iowa in the 2022 regular season finale in Champaign, Illinois.

  • Iowa has lost by five points or less in each of its last three visits to the State Farm Center (74-72 in 2022; 80-75 in 2021; 78-76 in 2020).
  • Two Hawkeyes posted double-doubles: Keegan Murray and Tony Perkins.
  • All-American Keegan Murray posted his team-leading ninth double-double of the season (22 points, 11 rebounds); he also rejected a game-best four shots.
  • Sophomore Tony Perkins registered his first double-double of his career, totaling 17 points and a personal-best 12 rebounds.
  • Forward Patrick McCaffery did not play in the game (hip/illness).
  • Three Illini scored in double figures: Kofi Cockburn (21); Alfonso Plummer (15); and Andre Curbelo (14). Cockburn also registered a game-best 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.


Iowa outscored Northwestern by 16 points in the second half in an 86-70 triumph over the Wildcats Tuesday evening inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

  • Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures for the third time this season and first time since Iowa’s win over Indiana on Jan. 5.
  • Iowa has won 16 of the last 19 meetings with Northwestern, including winning nine straight.
  • Filip Rebraca and Payton Sandfort each netted 20 points to lift Iowa. The duo combined to score 20 points over the final seven minutes of the game.
  • Rebraca also totaled 10 rebounds, four assists, and a block. He has netted 15+ points in eight of the last 12 games and 20+ for the fourth time this season. Rebraca has posted a double-double a team-best nine times.
  • Sandfort drained a career-best five 3-pointers. He scored in double figures for the fifth time in eight contests. Sandfort had his second 4-point play in six games with 3:36 left in the second half. The sophomore also dished out a career-best five assists.
  • The Hawkeyes made 10 3-pointers, five in each half. Iowa (10) made six more triples than Northwestern (4). The Wildcats shot 1-of-8 (.125) from long distance in the second half.
  • Both teams combined to shoot 30-of-36 from the free throw line. The Wildcats made 12-of-14 (.857), while the Hawkeyes made 18-of-22 (.818).
  • Boo Buie (20) and Chase Audige (15) combined to score half of Northwestern’s 70 points. All eight Wildcats who played scored at least four points, including Nick Martinelli’s career-high nine points off the bench.


Fifth-year senior Filip Rebraca has taken his game to another level this season. Rebraca is one of nine players nationally on a college men’s basketball roster over the age of 25. He ranks first on the squad in blocks (30) and field goal percentage (.573), and second in rebounds (8.5) and points per game (14). He is pulling down three offensive boards per outing, fourth best in the Big Ten and 39th nationally. His field goal percentage (.573) ranks 41st in the country.

Rebraca netted career point No. 1,500 against Eastern Illinois (Dec. 21). He has scored 515 points the last two seasons as a Hawkeye (58 games) and 1,129 points in three seasons at North Dakota. He grabbed career rebound No. 1,000 in Iowa’s win over Michigan.

The under-sized center (6-foot-9) has netted double figures a team-best 17 times this year and posted a team-best nine double-doubles, tying for third most in the league. Rebraca has scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games and netted 15+ points in seven of Iowa’s last 11. He has rejected multiple shots seven times this season and his 1.4 blocks per game ranks sixth in the conference.

Rebraca earned Big Ten Player of the Week accolades after his career night against Southeast Missouri State (Dec. 17). The fifth-year senior posted career bests in points (30) and assists (6), while also snagging a game-best nine rebounds. He only missed one field goal attempt (12-of-13).

Rebraca had another stellar outing versus Eastern Illinois. He tallied a game-best 24 points, collected a career-high five steals, and snagged eight rebounds. He totaled 16 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds at Nebraska, and amassed 19 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s triumph over then-No. 15 Indiana. Rebraca posted double-double No. 7 in the overtime win over Michigan (13 points, 12 rebounds).


Payton Sandfort had a sluggish start to the 2022-23 Big Ten season. The sophomore guard was 0-for-19 from the field, including 0-for-10 from 3-point range, over Iowa’s first three Big Ten games (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State).

Over the last eight games, Sandfort is averaging 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds, shooting 51 percent (35-of-69) from the field and 49 percent (20-of-41) from long distance. He made a personal-best five 3-pointers on Tuesday against Northwestern (5-of-7). He sank four 3-pointers in two games: Rutgers (4-of-5) and Michigan (4-of-9). Sandfort has netted double figures in seven of the last 12 games. Iowa is 7-2 when Sandfort makes multiple triples in a game.

Sandfort was instrumental in Iowa’s overtime victory over the Wolverines on Jan. 12. He scored Iowa’s final seven points of regulation (63 seconds), including a four-point play with 20 seconds remaining to force overtime. Sandfort tallied 24 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and overtime. He totaled seven points and matched a personal best with eight rebounds in Iowa’s 11-point win over Rutgers on Sunday. Sandfort was a team-best +18 in Tuesday’s victory over the Wildcats, scoring 20 points, bolstered by making 5-of-7 from long distance.

Off the court, Sandfort excels in the classroom earning Fall Semester Dean’s List distinction in 2022.


Junior Kris Murray has been named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20, Oscar Robertson Midseason Watch List, the Karl Malone Award Watch List, midseason third team All-America by Sporting News, and the Big Ten Preseason All-Big Ten Team.

It marks the fourth straight season that one or more Hawkeyes have been selected to the preseason all-conference squad. Joe Wieskamp was selected in 2019 and 2020, Luka Garza was tabbed the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in 2020, while Kris’ twin brother Keegan was recognized in 2021. Keegan was also the recipient of the 2022 Karl Malone Award.

Murray is averaging a team-best 20.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per outing. Murray has increased his scoring average by 11.9 points per game this season compared to last year. His 20.6 points per contest ranks 18th nationally. Murray did not play in four contests in December (Iowa State; Wisconsin; Southeast Missouri State; Eastern Illinois) due to a lower body injury.

Murray returned to the lineup on Dec. 29 at Nebraska, registering game bests in points (17) and blocks (3), while also clearing eight rebounds. He scored 22 of his game and career-best 32 points in the second half at Penn State on Jan. 1. Murray reached 30 points for a second straight game, totaling 30 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s victory over No. 15 Indiana on Jan. 5. He amassed 17 points and seven rebounds in Iowa’s road triumph at Rutgers. Murray played all 45 minutes in Iowa’s overtime triumph over Michigan, amassing 27 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists, and a steal. He netted 17 of his 19 points in the second half in the victory over Maryland and netted a game-best 24 points in last Sunday’s win over Rutgers.

He was Iowa’s leading scorer (9.7) and rebounder (4.3) off the bench last season. The native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was second on the team in 3-point percentage (.397), blocks per game (0.9) and field goals made (124), third in offensive (1.6) and defensive (2.7) rebounds per contest, and fourth in steals (0.8) per game. Murray made at least one 3-pointer in a team-best 17 consecutive games (Jan. 22-March 13). His 31 blocks and 43 triples rank seventh and eighth, respectively, by a Hawkeye sophomore.


Iowa has had a number of players miss games this season due health reasons. Below is the list of players and games missed.

Tony Perkins: Omaha (thigh)
Riley Mulvey: Georgia Tech, Duke (illness)
Kris Murray: Iowa State, Wisconsin, SEMO, Eastern Illinois (lower body)
Ahron Ulis: Wisconsin (hip contusion)
Connor McCaffery: Eastern Illinois (wrist)
Josh Ogundele: PSU, IND, RUT, MICH, UMD, OSU, MSU, RUT, NW (knee)
Patrick McCaffery: Indiana, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan State (anxiety)


Iowa posted its third-largest comeback in school history when it rallied to beat No. 15 Indiana (91-89) on Jan. 5, in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes trailed by 21 points (28-7) early in the first half. Iowa caught the Hoosiers and took their first lead with 11:35 remaining in the second half.

Iowa’s two largest comebacks were 23 points against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 17, 2022, and 22 points at Illinois on Jan. 14, 1987.

The Hawkeyes rallied from a 10-point second half deficit, including trailing by seven with under two minutes left in regulation, to upend Michigan in overtime on Jan. 12 in Iowa City.


Iowa welcomes four new faces to the 2022-23 roster: Dasonte Bowen, Josh Dix, Dante Eldridge, and Amarion Nimmers.

Bowen and Dix are true freshman, hailing from Boston and Council Bluffs, respectively. Eldridge and Nimmers are non-scholarship student-athletes. Eldridge, a junior, is the son of assistant coach Courtney Eldridge. Nimmers is redshirting this season.


Connor McCaffery decided to utilize his COVID bonus year and return for his sixth season with the Hawkeyes.

McCaffery is averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and has made 21-of-57 (.368) from 3-point range this season. He posted 14 points, bolstered by shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line, in his first start of the season against the Cyclones. He registered his first career double-double versus Georgia Tech (10 points; 10 rebounds) and notched his second double-double versus Wisconsin (17 points, 10 rebounds). He did not play in Iowa’s nonconference finale on Dec. 21 (Eastern Illinois) due to a wrist sprain. McCaffery dished out a season-best eight assists (only one turnover) in Iowa’s win at Rutgers last Sunday. He was a +10 in Iowa’s overtime win against Michigan.

McCaffery has only missed two free throws this season (29-of-31). He made 19 consecutive free throws from Nov. 29 to Dec. 29, before missing his first and only attempt at Penn State on Jan. 1, 2023.


  • With Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament win last March, McCaffery joined Hall of Fame coaches Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins, Eddie Sutton and Lefty Driesell as the only Division I coaches to lead teams to conference tournament titles in four or more different leagues.
  • Fran McCaffery has guided Iowa to 20 wins or more in eight of the last 10 seasons. He has led Iowa to Big Ten upper division finishes nine of the last 10 years. Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin have each recorded a Big Ten-best nine first division finishes since 2013.
  • Fran McCaffery has coached a first-team All-Big Ten honoree seven of the last nine seasons. He has guided Iowa to 20+ wins seven of the last nine seasons and fifth place or better finishes in the Big Ten six of the last eight years.


Fran McCaffery has a couple changes to his staff following last season. Assistant Coach Kirk Speraw retired and Assistant Coach Billy Taylor left for a head coaching position at Elon. Replacing Speraw and Taylor are Courtney Eldridge and Matt Gatens. Eldridge was on staff the previous six seasons, most recently as director of player development and recruiting director. Gatens is a former Hawkeye and most recently was an assistant coach at Drake.

Tristan Spurlock, who played basketball at UCF, is the new Director of Player Development. Al Seibert’s title changed to Chief of Staff, while Kyle Denning is now the team’s Director of Operations.


Redshirt junior Patrick McCaffery announced on Jan. 3, that he will be taking an indefinite leave to address anxiety.

“I have been battling anxiety for a while, and recently it has peaked, which has inhibited my preparation and performance on the court, said Patrick. It’s not fair to myself or teammates to be on the court when I am not myself. The anxiety has affected my sleep, appetite, and stamina, which has resulted in not having the energy level necessary to compete at my full capabilities. My struggle with anxiety affects every aspect of my well-being and makes it incredibly difficult to function normally. This is what I am battling right now. For this reason, I am taking an indefinite leave to address my situation. It might be two games, it may be four games, it may be more, but I will return when I feel like myself. My leave of absence is not related to my past battle with cancer.”

“Patrick is one of the millions of people who battle through anxiety on a daily basis,” Fran McCaffery said. “It has become more noticeable on and off the court over the past couple weeks. Patrick has the full support of his family, coaches, teammates, and administration as he fights through this. All of us admire his courage and willingness to be open about this struggle and we hope others know that they are not alone. We will be with him every step of the way.”

Patrick is averaging 12.8 points and 4.8 rebounds this season. He has netted double figures 10 times. His free throw percentage of 80.7 percent ranks sixth best in the conference.


A number of recent Iowa basketball graduates are playing professionally: Keegan Murray (NBA Sacramento Kings), Luka Garza (G League Iowa Wolves), Jordan Bohannon (G League Iowa Wolves), Joe Wieskamp (NBA Toronto Raptors), Jarrod Uthoff (Japan), Devyn Marble (Poland), Tyler Cook (G League Salt Lake City Stars), Anthony Clemmons (Turkey), Gabriel Olaseni (Turkey), Ryan Kriener (Matsuyama), Melsahn Basabe (Nicaragua), and Aaron White (Serbia).