116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It was a men’s basketball game with a pregame smell of rout, but that didn’t turn out to be on the menu for Iowa Friday night at Mackey Arena.
It was a loss in the Big Ten standings for the Hawkeyes, to No. 2 Purdue. But it wasn’t a total loss, and there’s no Pollyanna-ish spinning in saying that.
Without the nation’s second-leading scorer, forward Keegan Murray, Iowa battled the Boilermakers and their raucous sellout crowd to the final minute before ceding a 77-70 decision that should kick Purdue up to No. 1 on Monday.
The 7-1 Hawkeyes made the 8-0 Boilermakers sweat in the Big Ten-opener for both. Iowa had its shortcomings, particularly in the first half, but did many things well under the adverse conditions. They defended very well, be it in the half-court or full-court, against an ordinarily explosive offense.
Purdue entered the game shooting 54.5 percent from the field this season. It was held to 42 percent. Its 27-15 advantage in free throws was the game’s difference, though the Boilermakers’ 42-30 rebounding edge didn’t hurt.
Nonetheless, Iowa didn’t go away. A program not known for defense defended against a Purdue club that had averaged over 92 points over its first seven games.
“I thought (it was) our effort and intensity level and our ability to stay connected whether we were in the press or half-court,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought we were all battling.”
Purdue’s splendid sophomore guard, Jaden Ivey, broke away for a dunk and two of his game-high 19 points after an Iowa turnover, and the Hawkeyes called time with 9:54 left, trailing 63-44. Instead of breaking down altogether, they broke down the Boilers with repeated stops and forced turnovers. Purdue had 17 of those.
Iowa soph forward Patrick McCaffery took control on the offensive end with 10 points in five minutes, but it was still 70-57 with 4:40 left. That’s when the Hawkeyes’ pressure defense began to riddle the Boilermakers, while Iowa converted on possession after possession.
An 11-0 run happened in 1:32, and it was 70-68. After Joe Toussaint’s driving layup with 2:32 left brought Iowa within 72-70, however, the Hawkeyes didn’t score again.
While the sellout crowd of 14,804 roared like the Boilermakers had it all the way, Purdue Coach Matt Painter knew differently.
“Iowa played harder than us,” Painter said. “Iowa was tougher than us.
“Give Iowa a lot of credit. I thought Iowa played hard for 40 minutes. They made it difficult for us.”
The first half was too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome. They had twice as many fouls (16) as field goals (8) in the first half in falling behind, 39-26.
The void from the absence of Murray and his 24.6-point average because of an ankle he turned at Virginia Monday wasn’t filled in the first half. Guard Tony Perkins had 12 points, but no one else had more than three.
Iowa scored the first six points of the second half, but then the Boilermakers kept the Hawkeyes at bay until that 11-0 run. Other Hawkeyes stepped up besides Perkins and Patrick McCaffery.
Point guard Joe Toussaint, limited to three minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls, had seven points and four assists after halftime. Kris Murray took his brother Keegan’s place in the starting lineup and had 12 points, including the last five in the 11-0 run.
And, Iowa got help against stellar Purdue big men Trevion Williams and Zach Edey from sophomore Josh Ogundele, who had never before scored more than two points or played more than eight minutes in any college game.
“I’m thrilled for Josh,” Fran McCaffery said. “He gave us huge minutes in a difficult environment against two of the best big men in the country.”
Against Purdue on the road with those two fine centers, Ogundele played 16 minutes, scored seven points, and didn’t back down an iota on defense. He outscored the 7-foot-4 Edey, who came in as Purdue’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game.
“I didn’t really play so much at the beginning of the season but I know I can hold my own,” Ogundele said.
“We play with a lot of passion, aggression. It’s a very good defensive team.
“I already knew we could stand with any team in the country, and I stand by that.”
“We’ve got a lot of heart, man,” Patrick McCaffery said. “Everybody in the locker room’s got heart.
“We believe that we can compete with anybody in the country. That’s just the type of mindset that we have. Even without Keegan. Obviously Keegan is an enormous part of our team. With the people I have in the locker room with me, I’ll go to war with them any day.”
Perkins had 14 points and accounted directly for two of Purdue’s 17 turnovers with steals. He’s from Indianapolis, and seemed to relish this competition.
“It felt good, finally, for my family to see me play,” Perkins said. “I’m from here, so I know a lot of Purdue guys, I played against them in high school.
“They got the win, but I’m proud of my team for heart.”
Fran McCaffery said he thinks Keegan Murray will be able to play Monday in Iowa City when the Hawkeyes host Illinois (6-2), which smashed Rutgers 86-51 in Champaign Friday.
“I think he will,” McCaffery said. “But I thought he’d be ready today, so I don’t really know.”