WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) The primary school of thought when playing No. 15 Purdue is to attempt to contain post players Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas while gambling that the Boilermaker guards won’t make enough perimeter shots to produce a victory.
Iowa adhered to that strategy Wednesday night in each team’s Big Ten opener, and paid dearly for the risk.
Freshman guard Carsen Edwards scored 19 points and junior guard Dakota Mathias added 17 as Purdue dominated Iowa 89-67.
It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Boilermakers (12-2, 1-0), who also got 16 points from Haas, 15 from Vince Edwards and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Swanigan, who recorded his fifth consecutive double-double.
“We felt like we wanted to limit their low-post opportunities,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “They did a really good job of moving the ball and finding the open guy. It’s not like you can leave two guys open and only cover two guys.”
Mathias understood how important Purdue’s guards were to Wednesday’s victory.
“They were really keying on Isaac and Caleb down low in the first half, so we got some open looks outside,” Mathias said. “In the second half, they started keying on the outside, so we came open for some shots in the post. It was a good mix for us all game.”
Big Ten scoring leader Peter Jok of Iowa, who came in averaging 22.6 points, was held to 13 on 4-of-15 shooting, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Mathias was the primary defender on Jok.
“He is tough to guard, because he is always moving,” Mathias said. “It was a tough challenge, but I think we did a good job with him tonight.”
It was Purdue coach Matt Painter’s 250th victory at his alma mater. Painter is in his 12th season with the Boilermakers, who lost to Iowa twice last season.
Mathias scored 16 first-half points, and Carsen Edwards added 10 as Purdue raced to an 8-0 lead and then built a commanding 49-25 halftime advantage, shooting 55.9 percent from the field, including 58.8 percent from 3-point range (10 of 17).
“Getting off to a good start was huge for us,” Painter said. “We had really good ball movement, and that led to good shots. We were fortunate to make those shots, and then Dakota did a really good job defensively. He has learned how to prepare to guard good players.”
Jok was held to two first-half points on 1-of-6 shooting. Iowa shot only 31.3 percent in the first half (10 of 32), including missing all seven 3-point attempts.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes certainly did not look like a team that had won five in a row. They limited the 6-foot-9 Swanigan and the 7-2 Haas to two first-half points each but found themselves trailing by 24 points after only 20 minutes and by 31 with 12:27 remaining.
Purdue: The Boilermakers received terrific guard play from Mathias and Carsen Edwards and were deadly from beyond the arc with Iowa focusing its defense on the low post. Once Swanigan and Haas got more involved in the second half, Purdue looked like a team that will challenge for the Big Ten championship.
Having won seven straight, if Purdue gets past Minnesota on Sunday and improves to 13-2, look for the Boilermakers to make a move forward in the Top 25. Their only losses are to No. 1 Villanova and to No. 6 Louisville.
THE STREAK LIVES
With a rebound with 2:11 remaining, Swanigan finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth consecutive double-double. He entered leading the Big Ten in rebounding at 12.5 per game.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes will host Michigan on Jan. 1.
Purdue: The Boilermakers will host Minnesota on Jan. 1.