The present has made sure to recognize the past.
Iowa forward Keegan Murray knew where former teammate Luka Garza, the Associated Press National Player of the Year last season, sat during Tuesday night’s game against Michigan State.
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So when Murray scored from a layup while being fouled, he made sure to turn to Garza and give a subtle muscle flex like Garza did.
“I kind of wanted to be a bit like him,” Murray said with a smile.
“It’s his only celebration,” teased Kris Murray, Keegan’s twin brother.
Keegan Murray had another great performance, scoring 28 points as the 25th-ranked Hawkeyes beat the struggling Spartans 86-60.
Murray, who entered fourth nationally with 23.4 points per game, was 10 of 15 from the field. It was his 19th game of 20 or more points this season.
“He was amazing,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “He was as good as anyone I’ve seen in this league in a while.”
The Hawkeyes (19-8, 9-7 Big Ten) won their third straight game against the Spartans (18-9, 9-7), who have lost five of their last six games overall.
Iowa opened the game making six of its first seven shots. The Hawkeyes led by 15 points in the first half and entered the half 46-32, then extended it to 32 in the second half. The Spartans only led for the first 21 seconds.
“We knew what fight we were going into,” Keegan Murray said. “We wanted to be the most physical team. I felt like we had done that. »
“It looked more like an ambush,” Izzo said.
Iowa outshot the Spartans 44-43 and held them to 29.7 percent shooting in the second half.
“When you’re playing against Michigan State, it’s not easy to get past them,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “You have to match their intensity, their physique. And we did.
Iowa shot 50% in the first half, 43.1% for the game.
“I thought we had enough good shots,” Izzo said. “We just didn’t keep tonight.”
Kris Murray and Jordan Bohannon each had 11 points as the Hawkeyes continued their February run. Iowa lost three of its last four games in late January but has gone 5-1 since.
“I think it’s our physique,” Kris Murray said. “We were the most physical team. Our intensity over the last two games has been really good. We threw the first punch every time.
The Hawkeyes missed nine of their first 10 shots in the second half but maintained their double-digit lead by making their first seven free throws. Bohannon then hit two straight runs and Iowa led 61-44 with 12:57 remaining.
Iowa’s biggest lead was 84-52 with 3:11 remaining. At that time, Keegan Murray was out of the game.
“Keegan is a special talent, and he does it in a special way,” Izzo said. “They have a star. She’s a star. »
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Malik Hall led Michigan State with 17 points.
Garza retired his No. 55 jersey in a halftime ceremony.
Garza, a consensus first-team All-American last year, finished his career as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,306 points.
“That number obviously means a lot to me and my family,” Garza said before the ceremony. “I put everything I had into this shirt for four years. Seeing it rise in the rafters is something I will never forget.
The jerseys of former Hawkeyes Murray Wier, Roy Marble and Chuck Darling were retired in a pre-game ceremony.
500 AT HOME
The win was Iowa’s 500th at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which opened in 1983.
Iowa is 500-151 in 39 seasons playing in the building, 14-3 this season.
Izzo said the Spartans’ current struggles could lead to roster changes.
“Of course there’s always a problem with mental toughness,” Izzo said. “There will be things that will change.”
What those changes will be, however, Izzo wouldn’t say.
“No insult, but it’s none of your business until you see it,” he said.
The Hawkeyes moved to a sixth-place tie with the Spartans in the Big Ten. It was the only meeting between the teams during the regular season.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY
The Hawkeyes, who were one point ahead of the Spartans in this week’s poll, made a strong case for staying in the standings.
Michigan State dropped out of the poll this week after reaching No. 10 in the standings in 12 appearances this season.
State of Michigan: Hosts No. 4 Purdue Saturday.
Iowa: In Nebraska on Friday.
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