IOWA CITY, Iowa – The comparisons between Kris Murray and his twin brother Keegan are dismissed in the Iowa dressing room.
But forward Patrick McCaffery couldn’t resist noting the similarities between the two Murrays after Kris scored a career-high 30 points in Monday’s 100-64 win over Omaha at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“How many hard punches did Keegan take last year? Not many,” McCaffery said. “It was just easy.”
And then McCaffery reflected on Kris’ night – 13 of 17 from the field, including 11 consecutive makes in the first half. It was so similar to what McCaffery saw last season.
“Kris had such a role tonight,” McCaffery said. “That’s what Kris looked like.”
Keegan is now in the NBA, No. 4 overall for the Sacramento Kings in last summer’s draft. Kris, said Omaha coach Chris Crutchfield, is about to follow his brother.
“He’s fast,” Crutchfield said. “He’s a good player. He’s a guy who’s going to play in the NBA.”
All of that seems far away for Kris, who recognizes the comparison will always be there, but also knows he can put his own stamp on the Hawkeyes.
“I think people compare us a lot and he definitely had a really good season last year,” Kris said. “So stepping into his shadow would be easy, I think. But I know I’m not the same person as him. I’m doing my own thing in Iowa and trying to take it as far as possible.”
Kris fell 29 to match his previous career high in last Wednesday’s win at Seton Hall in a night when he ignored what everyone around him was saying.
“Nothing bothers him,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “There was a lot of whining about that the other night. He’s 29, 30 tonight. He’s not paying attention.”
Kris had his first shot of the game blocked by Omaha’s Dylan Brougham and then continued his 11-mark run. His run came as the other Hawkeyes around him were missing — Kris was 6-of-7 off the field at one point while the rest of the Iowa offense was 1-of-8.
“We got easy hoops early on, and Kris gets about a hundred of them,” Patrick McCaffery quipped.
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“I think the game is structured that way,” Kris said. “I got into a rhythm early on – just easy baskets, open jump shots, and it just kind of came to mind I guess.”
“We were on our tails trying to guard him,” Crutchfield said. “He’s skilled. And he’s fast. Once a guy like that gets going, it’s hard to contain him.”
Kris was asked if he had ever had a stretch like this.
“I’ve never had a run like this in my life,” he said. “It was kind of cool just being in that moment.”
The rest of the Hawkeyes eventually followed Kris’ lead. Iowa shot 60 percent in the first half, 55.4 percent for the game. They reached the 100 point mark for the second time this season.
Kris had just five second-half points in 11 minutes of the second half. There was no point, said Fran McCaffery, in letting him go.
“I would have liked to have left it in and picked a bigger number,” he said. “But that won’t help. I will not hurt him.
“But he did cook there for a while. And the good thing is, we’ve started looking for him, and you’ve got to do it. When you get a guy going like that, you gotta charge him up.”
The Hawkeyes got 16 from Patrick McCaffery, 12 from Connor McCaffery.
But that was Kris’ night with a big Kris run.
Fran McCaffery said there will come a time during the preseason when the questions and the comparisons between Kris and Keegan will stop.
And yes, this game looked very similar to what everyone saw last season.
But it was Kris’ game.