Iowa center Filip Rebraca was the one to lead the way in the absence of leading scorer Kris Murray in the Hawkeyes’ last win against in-state rival Iowa State.
As Murray stays out with a lower leg injury, who would carry the load for the Hawks in the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin?
It was tough to answer that question early. The Hawkeyes took six and half minutes to score their first basket in the form of a three by forward Connor McCaffery.
Making those buckets from deep brought the Hawks back in the game.
Down by as many as 10, Connor along with brother Patrick and guard Tony Perkins hit three more to close out the half tied at 29.
That was the spark needed to battle it down the stretch, Perkins and the McCafferys combined for 58 of the 75 points.
It still wasn’t enough to stop the Badgers, who won in overtime, beating the Hawks for just the second time in the last five meetings.
“He’s (Connor) so critical now with a short bench. He has to play the whole game. He’s got to play against bigger guys,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I brought him in as a point guard. Plays 1-2-3-4. He was critical with pressure in the back court. There’s just nobody tougher and smarter than him. He just has to be on the floor and I’m really proud of him.”
The veterans have been reliable to provide the offense needed going forward, but the bad news is head coach McCaffery has not been clear on when Murray would be back. He could be all the difference to win these close contests by adding his 19 points and 31 minutes per game.