Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa Hawkeyes play Purdue's game and play it better, with 70-55 win

Iowa prevails with defense

IOWA CITY — The flying around for a nation-leading 98.7 points per game stopped the moment the Iowa men’s basketball team faced Purdue.

The Boilermakers don’t play that game. You play their style, which is longer possessions and a premium on defense and rebounding.

Iowa played that game and won at it, a 70-55 decision in the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten opener Tuesday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“It was by far our best effort on the glass and defensively,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said.

It wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the 7-1 Hawkeyes’ first six games in Carver this season, all wins, but it got the job done. Which bodes well for the future, because not everyone in the conference will want to play go-go-go.

It ended Iowa’s four-game losing streak to Purdue, and was the first time Hawkeyes senior star Luka Garza had come out a winner against the Boilermakers.

“I think in the past we’d gotten out-hustled and out-rebounded by them,” Garza said. “They’re a team that prides themselves on winning the war on the boards and tonight we showed a tremendous effort on the glass.”

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“Honestly, my first two years they embarrassed us every time I’ve played them,” said Iowa junior forward Joe Wieskamp. “They’ve out-hustled us. They destroyed us on the glass every game.

“So this is one we really wanted to come in and send a message in our first game in the Big Ten against a good Purdue team.”

Purdue entered averaging 9.6 more rebounds than its foes. Iowa had 37 to the Boilers’ 35, and the Hawkeyes held Purdue to 39.7 percent shooting.

The fourth-ranked Hawkeyes took control of this game in the final five minutes of the first half and never led by less than seven points thereafter. They didn’t wilt after sitting Garza from 16:34 mark of the second half until 11:24 remained because Garza got his third foul.

In fact, Iowa outscored the Boilermakers 11-9 in that time, with CJ Fredrick making a 3-pointer and setting up two other Hawkeye hoops.

Joe Wieskamp had a 5-0 run of his own to give Iowa a 55-42 edge, and the lead grew to 62-47 with 7:26 left after the Hawkeyes got consecutive Keegan Murray dunks on setups by Joe Toussaint.

Purdue scored the next eight points to make things interesting, but a Connor McCaffery basket off his own miss followed by Garza’s fourth 3-pointer pushed the lead back up to 12, and there was no anxiety the rest of the way.

Garza, the nation’s leading scorer, had a game-high 22 points. It was seven points under his average. He got just six shots from inside the 3-point arc, but was 4 of 8 in 3s.

Wieskamp had 17 points. He and Garza had nine rebounds each.

“His job on the glass tonight was just tremendous,” Garza said about Wieskamp.

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“I think we learned our lesson from Gonzaga,” Wieskamp said, referring to the Zags’ dominance on the boards and the Hawkeyes’ unremarkable defense in their 99-88 loss three days earlier in Sioux Falls, S.D., to the nation’s No. 1 team.

“We knew that was an opportunity and we didn’t take advantage of it. We had a lot of mistakes defensively, transition. So I think really we watched the film and took the criticism to heart, and really focused on ways in which we can improve. Realizing we’re a team that can score the ball with anyone in the country, but at the end of the day we’ve got to get stops.”

Purdue shot 39.7 percent from the field. The Boilermakers shot just three free throws, making one. Iowa was 10 of 14.

The first half was one of runs, and Iowa’s were a little larger.

The game opened this way: Purdue scored five points, Iowa scored eight, then Purdue scored five for a 10-8 lead.

After a 10-0 run that began with five points from Garza, the Hawkeyes were up 21-13. The flurry was capped by a 3-pointer by Murray, the first time he touched the ball in the game.

The Hawkeyes went scoreless for 5:32 as Purdue caught them with an 8-0 run featuring Aaron Wheeler getting a 3-pointer, steal and layup in a 20-second span. Iowa responded with eight straight points of its own for a 31-23 edge that it grew to 37-27 by halftime.

Purdue shot just 34.4 percent from the floor in the half, and was 4 of 14 in 3-pointers. Iowa’s cold 3-point shooting from its loss to Gonzaga last Saturday carried over, with just six 3s in 18 tries.

The sixth make was when Garza and Bohannon flipped the ball back and forth behind the arc in an interesting version of the two-man game late in the half before Bohannon stuck the bomb.

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Iowa’s defense was a good bit better than it was against the No. 1 Zags, and Iowa had a 23-18 first-half advantage in rebounds with Garza and Wieskamp grabbing seven apiece.

Garza moved to third on Iowa’s all-time scoring list with 1,786 (1764 points, passing Acie Earl (1,779) and Greg Stokes (1,760). Bohannon made three 3-pointers, the last one the 300th of his career.

Iowa resumes play Friday with a 7 p.m. Christmas contest at Minnesota (7-1, 0-1).

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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