Iowa Men's Basketball

Connor McCaffery assists Iowa Hawkeyes in putting hurt on Maryland

Junior guard has career-high 10 assists in No. 5 Iowa's 89-67 rout

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery (30) dribbles the ball away from Maryland's Aquan Smart during the Hawkeyes' 89-67 win over
Iowa guard Connor McCaffery (30) dribbles the ball away from Maryland’s Aquan Smart during the Hawkeyes’ 89-67 win over the Terrapins Thursday night at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. (Nick Wass/Associated Press)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Connor McCaffery’s passing eye was 20/20. His sore ankle was good enough.

His feet? They were among many the Iowa men’s basketball team put on the gas pedal against the Maryland Terrapins Thursday night.

McCaffery had a career-high 10 assists and zero turnovers in the No. 5 Hawkeyes’ 89-67 trouncing of the Terps at Xfinity Center. Not bad for a guy who played just three minutes in Iowa’s 77-75 win at Rutgers last Saturday because of a sprained ankle.

“I was pretty sore for about three days,” McCaffery said. “I didn’t even practice until I did light reps yesterday. Today I began treatment. I took a little bit of ibuprofen. Once the adrenaline got going I was good from there.”

The junior guard was just one of several nice stories for the Hawkeyes (10-2, 4-1 Big Ten). Another was Connor’s brother, redshirt freshman forward Patrick McCaffery, who had 10 points and gave his best all-around performance in a conference game.

Patrick and three other subs joined Connor to manufacture the near-entirety of Iowa’s 20-0 run after the starting five fell behind 19-9.

The Brothers McCaffery, Keegan Murray, Jack Nunge and Joe Toussaint played some mean 2-3 zone defense, got in a great offensive flow, and made quick work of erasing Maryland’s fast start.

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Toussaint had a career-high six steals. Freshman Murray had three dunks, posted his second-straight 14-point game, and went coast-to-coast for a basket that beat the first-half buzzer and earned him a series of chest-bumps from appreciative teammates.

All-America center Luka Garza wasn’t exactly absent during his final college game in the backyard of his Washington, D.C., home. He had 17 of his game-high 24 points before halftime, which ended with the Hawkeyes up 44-26. That was a 28-point swing from that 19-9 hole.

“It means the world,” Garza said of getting his first win here. “It took me three tries. I’m excited to finally get it done here and bring one home from the DMV.”

In the second half, Iowa’s starters were more cohesive. Senior guard Jordan Bohannon swished five of his six 3-pointers after the break and scored 18 points. In three games here, he’s made 19 of 29 treys.

“It’s something about the East Coast,” Bohannon said. “I love shooting here for some reason.”

It was a 3-pointer from Connor McCaffery, just his fifth of the season, that started the 20-0 run. Maryland (6-6, 1-5) backed off him on defense as other teams have done at times, but the strategy didn’t succeed.

“When I hit that I was happy because I felt like we needed a bucket and they were disrespecting me pretty heavily.

“When they’re off me like that, I’ve said this before, I really like it. That’s why I had 10 assists and no turns. I really don’t think it’s a good game plan at all, to be honest with you. I can make the perfect pass, I’m waiting so the guys are in perfect position, and then I just load people up. And then step into my shots, whether it’s a late shot clock or I get them in rhythm.”

Garza said he and McCaffery game-planned their two-man game Wednesday night.

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“I’ve said this a million times,” said Garza. “He’s the best post-entry passer I’ve ever played with. He makes the job easy for me. He’s patient, he waits for me.

“I’m really lucky a player like that is on our team. He’s a man.”

Iowa will seek to avenge its lone Big Ten loss in its next game, a 1:30 p.m. home contest Sunday against No. 16 Minnesota.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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