Iowa locked in, looking for 3-0 start against NC Central

NCAA Men

Iowa will look to remain unbeaten to start the regular season when it hosts North Carolina Central on Tuesday night in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes (2-0) are coming off back-to-back, blowout wins over Longwood and Kansas City to start the season. Iowa won its first game by 33 points and its second contest by 32 points.

Keegan Murray has led the way for the Hawkeyes. He is averaging 24.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season to go along with 3.0 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assist per contest.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is determined to continue taking charge.

“I have great confidence in myself as a player,” Murray said. “Any time I step on the court, I feel like I’m the best player on the court. That’s just the mindset I have going into games.”

North Carolina Central (0-2) faces another tough test after dropping its first two games on the road against Richmond and No. 12 Memphis. The Eagles lost 70-60 in their opener and 90-51 in game No. 2.

Eric Boone led North Carolina Central with 13 points off the bench in the team’s most recent game. Boone shot 4 of 7 from the field, including 1 of 2 from 3-point range, while making all four of his attempts from the charity stripe.

The Eagles are learning to play together after returning only three players from a season ago.

“It’s not easy when you have so many new players, but we learned last year (that) it’s not easy when you have a bunch of guys returning either,” North Carolina Central head coach LeVelle Moton said. “It’s never easy. We’re trying to operate as efficiently as we can, and get the new guys acclimated.”

History could be made Tuesday. Iowa sharp-shooter Jordan Bohannon has made 373 career 3-pointers, one shy of former Ohio State player Jon Diebler (374) for the most in Big Ten history.

Bohannon, who is a sixth-year senior, can surpass Diebler if he drains two 3-pointers on Tuesday.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery is eager to see more from Filip Rebraca, a transfer from North Dakota who has earned a spot in the starting lineup. Rebraca pulled down 13 rebounds in his second game against Kansas City to lead all players on the court.

“He’s a veteran guy who really knows how to play,” McCaffery said. “He competes, he’s physical, but he’s versatile. He fits our style. He really understands the game.”

For his part, Rebraca said rebounding always has been a priority.

“It just kind of comes naturally,” Rebraca said. “I just kind of know where the ball is going. I get in the right position.”

Iowa is 72-5 in nonconference home games since 2012. The Hawkeyes will try to maintain that success after knocking off Kansas City with a balanced attack.

“I thought this was going to be a real challenge for us, and it was,” McCaffery said after the most recent victory. “Hopefully we learn from it, see our mistakes, and get ready for Tuesday.”

–Field Level Media

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