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IOWA CITY — Iowa has taken apart two straight mid-major men’s basketball teams, to no surprise.
Well, we might have wondered if the Hawkeyes’ starting five would be as cohesive as it’s been from the jump. Each starter is in a new role. Three came off the bench last season. Post player Filip Rebraca transferred from North Dakota. Jordan Bohannon switched from point guard to off guard.
But all five are at least 21 years old. All are older than half the starters in Friday’s Detroit Pistons-Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game. Bohannon and Rebraca, both 24, are older than eight of them.
Rebraca had nine points and 13 rebounds in Iowa’s 89-57 cruise over the Roos of Kansas City.
“He’s a veteran guy who really knows how to play,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He competes. He’s physical, but he’s versatile. He fits our style.”
Bohannon made three 3-pointers to pull within one of Jon Diebler’s Big Ten career record of 374.
Then there’s sophomore forward Keegan Murray. He scored 16 of Iowa’s 18 points in a second-half stretch that put Friday’s game way out of reach. His 25 points gave him 49 in 40 minutes of playing time over Iowa’s two one-sided triumphs.
“He’s just an amazing young player,” said Rebraca. “He just understands the game so well. He makes the right decisions. He’s athletic, lengthy. He gets in his spots and he chooses wisely. Defensively as well, he’s in the correct spots. He helps you out.
“I just have no complaints about the guy,” Rebraca added, laughing. “Love him to death.”
So maybe the Hawkeyes were underrated entering this season. Murray eluded some in the preseason, though not all. He was on the Big Ten’s All-Preseason Team as selected by league media though he was a freshman who came off the bench last season.
Not to pick on Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports, but on Tuesday he published a list of the nation’s top 50 college players. Eleven were from the Big Ten. Murray wasn’t among them.
“I don’t look at numbers and stuff like that because it really doesn’t mean much to me,” Murray said. “Honestly, I just want to go out, give 100 percent effort every game, and just get wins for our team.”
So Iowa didn’t spend any nervous sweat in its first two games, and stays home to play North Carolina Central Tuesday at 8 p.m., and Alabama State two nights later. Did McCaffery get everything he wanted out of Week 1?
“Yeah, I think so,” he said.
In the meantime, those who didn’t originally do so may want to wedge Murray into their top 50 lists.
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