BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team fell to Auburn, 83-75, on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament First Round at Legacy Arena. Iowa closes out the season with a 19-14 record, including an 11-9 mark in the Big Ten Conference.
Iowa had difficulty shooting the basketball in the first half, heading into the locker room down five points after shooting 0-of-9 from deep in the first 20 minutes.
The Tigers would charge ahead out of the break to lead by as many as 17, but the Hawkeyes clawed their way back with 49 second-half points, the most by an Iowa team in an NCAA Tournament half since scoring 49 in each half against Texas on March 19, 1992.
A dunk from junior Kris Murray with five minutes remaining cut the deficit back down to four points. Auburn was able to withstand the Hawkeye push, however, and put the game away at the line down the stretch.
All fight 💪@KrisMurray24 x #Hawkeyes
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) March 17, 2023
Sophomore Payton Sandfort led the Hawkeyes with 21 points. The Waukee, Iowa, native also registered six rebounds and three assists against the Tigers. Sandfort converted three of Iowa’s seven triples on Thursday.
Murray was next for Iowa in scoring with 15 points, and also led the Hawkeyes with nine rebounds and two steals. Murray, an All-American, finished the year averaging numerous team-bests, including 20.2 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game.
In their final games in the Iowa uniform, fifth-year Filip Rebraca posted 14 points and seven rebounds while graduate student Connor McCaffery finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Iowa won on the glass, 44-38, including a 14-8 margin on the offensive boards. The Hawkeyes shot an improved 7-of-18 (39 percent) from long range in the second half, finishing 26 percent (7-of-27) from 3-point range for the game.
Iowa shot 41 percent (28-of-68) from the floor and 71 percent (12-of-17) from the free throw line.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“We see a fair amount of quickness in our league. I think leagues tend to get too generalized… We have a lineup we can play that is a little quicker and a lineup we can play that is a little bigger. Maybe one is a little better offensively than the other.
We didn’t shoot it well in the first half. Neither did they. But, we kept coming in the second half. We outrebounded them. Didn’t turn it over that much. The press was marginally effective. Give credit to them for that. I thought our running game was pretty good. They do have quick guards, but I don’t know that you say this is one style in one league versus another. It is two teams. What happens in the league is, in my opinion, irrelevant.”
- Tonight was the first ever meeting between Iowa and Auburn in men’s basketball.
- All-American Kris Murray tallied 15 points, a team bests in rebounds (9) and steals (2).
- Payton Sandfort tallied a game-best 21 points, making multiple 3-pointers for the 12th time in the last 18 games. Sandfort netted 20+ points six times this season, second most on the squad (Kris Murray, 15).
- Senior Filip Rebraca posted 14 points and seven rebounds in his final game as a Hawkeye. Rebraca reached double figures in scoring a team-best 28 times (33 games played).
- Iowa had eight turnovers, its fewest in an NCAA Tournament game since March 18, 2016 (3 vs. Temple).
- Iowa scored 49 second-half points, the most by a Hawkeye team in a half during the NCAA Tournament since scoring 49 in the first and second half versus Texas on March 19, 1992.
- Iowa concludes its season 19-14 overall, tying for fifth place in the Big Ten with an 11-9 league record.