Given the shift in momentum in the first meeting between No. 22 Purdue and No. 9 Iowa, Sunday’s rematch in Iowa City set up to be an interesting contest. And while the shift from one half to the next wasn’t as drastic this time around, the Hawkeyes once again took control of the action in the second half. Fran McCaffery’s team won 83-71, moving to 7-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 1969-70 season.
A theme in both games between the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers was turnovers, with Purdue once again struggling to take care of the basketball. In West Lafayette, Iowa called upon pressure defense throughout most of the second half to turn a 17-point deficit into a seven-point victory. Sunday afternoon Purdue committed a total of 17 turnovers, with Iowa converting those mistakes into 24 points on the other end.
There were times when Iowa went to their trapping defense and they were successful with it, but for most of the game they played their standard man-to-man. It was another example of the one concern many had about Purdue before the season began: did they have the ball-handlers needed to get the team into advantageous situations on the offensive end of the floor? P.J. Thompson, who scored 16 points off the bench, had just one turnover on the day but Rapheal Davis racked up four and Johnny Hill had as many turnovers as starting center A.J. Hammons (three).
Given Iowa’s offensive options, led by national Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff and much-improved Peter Jok, those turnovers can be turned into points either in transition or in the half-court.
Uthoff scored 22 points against Purdue, which ultimately had to change its lineup to account for his skill set at the four with Vince Edwards shifting to that spot and Caleb Swanigan playing the five. But for as good as Uthoff’s been this season, stopping Iowa requires a lot more than simply keying in on the senior forward. Jok added 13 points as did senior center Adam Woodbury, who also grabbed ten rebounds, and Anthony Clemmons added ten points and six assists.
With their ball and player movement Iowa’s done a good job of finding quality looks on a consistent basis this season, and against one of the nation’s better defenses the Hawkeyes shot 50 percent from the field and 11-for-20 from three.
With Iowa now claiming season sweeps of both the Boilermakers and No. 11 Michigan State, underestimating this group’s chances of winning the Big Ten would be a fool’s errand. And with their league slate being front-loaded for the most part, Iowa can take another step in that direction with a win at No. 7 Maryland Thursday night. Having already experienced significant success on the road, Iowa won’t lack for confidence heading into that game either.