By Michael Hemmerle
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – On the day that will be remembered for Jordan Bohannon’s game-winning shot to send Iowa to the Big Ten Championship Game, the play of Keegan Murray made it possible.
Murray, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, became the first player in the 24-year history of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament to score 25 or more points in three consecutive games. His 32 points, on 11-of-17 shooting including eight of 10 from 3-point range, kept the Hawkeyes close enough for Bohannon’s shot to beat Indiana.
As Bohannon sat in the press conference following Iowa’s 80-77 victory, he made a startling discovery.
“I saw Keegan had eight 3s,” Bohannon said. “No one said anything about it. I was like, oh, my gosh, that’s insane.”
Murray extended his single-season Iowa scoring record to 782 points. For the first 117 seasons of basketball at the University of Iowa, a player had never reached 700 points in a season. Now it has happened three times: Murray’s record-setting season and Luka Garza’s totals of 740 in 2020 and 747 in 2021.
According to the Iowa athletic department, Murray is one of three major conference players in the last decade to average at least 23 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
In Iowa’s first Big Ten tournament game against Northwestern, Murray dropped 26 points, a team high, and eight rebounds. He scored 26 points the next night against Rutgers.
In three tournament games, Murray is averaging 28 points, with his shot selection and consistent shooting being the main factors. Against Northwestern, Murray went 11 for 16 from the field, while also converting on all three of his 3-point attempts. He made 10 for 19 from the field against Rutgers.
In the semifinal against Indiana, Murray made 11 of 17 shots, including eight of 10 3-pointers. His shooting percentage from the field is 62% to go along with a 61% 3-point average in Iowa’s three tournament games.
“He’s the real deal,” said Indiana coach Mike Woodson. “….He’s a load. I mean, there’s just nothing he can’t do with the basketball in his hand. He’s a pretty good defender and he rebounds the ball in terms of his height and length, so I mean, I think the sky’s the limit for him.”