Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa loses big to Purdue on the boards and the scoreboard

No. 18 Hawkeyes drop home finale, 77-68

IOWA CITY — Purdue was Iowa’s Kryptonite in men’s basketball again Tuesday night, though the Hawkeyes bore little resemblance to Supermen.

The Boilermakers bullied Iowa on the boards, and did a lot of other things better, too. Needing a big late-season kick to get into NCAA tournament consideration, the Boilers kicked No. 18 Iowa hard at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 77-68.

In their home finale, the Hawkeyes suffered their first loss Big Ten loss at Carver after nine wins. They dropped to 20-10 overall and 11-8 in the conference. Purdue improved to 16-14 and 9-10, completing a two-game season sweep of the Hawkeyes and logging a fourth-straight win in the series.

The Boilermakers won the first three of those games by an average of 25.7 points, including a 104-68 thrashing last month in West Lafayette, Ind.

“I think we’re a better team,” Iowa center Luka Garza said. “They’ve out-hustled us twice, they’ve outfought us twice.

“I think they have a real good team and they played hard and they played like they needed this game. They played like it and they wanted it more than we did today.

“I obviously hate losing, but I really hate getting out-hustled more than anything.”

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Purdue used three baskets off second-chance points in an 8-0 run that pushed it to an 11-4 lead, and the tone was set. Iowa got as close as 20-16 midway through the first half, but a 13-2 Purdue run that included two free throws made after a technical foul to Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery rocketed the Boilers to a double-digit lead that grew as large as 21 points before the half ended with Purdue up 42-25.

Purdue had a whopping 27-12 first-half advantage in rebounds, with nine of those on the offensive glass. Forward Evan Boudreaux had eight of his 14 boards in the half and his team finished with a 47-33 edge in that stat. The Boilermakers had 21 offensive rebounds.

“They played desperate, they played hungry, and we didn’t,” said Garza. “You can’t give up 21 offensive rebounds to a team, especially when the points off turnovers is 25-10 (in Purdue’s favor). That’s not a recipe for success."

Meanwhile, Iowa was 3 of 16 from 3-point range in the half and 8 of 30 in the game, with only three second chances in the first 20 minutes. Only two of the seven Hawkeyes who attempted 3s in the half made any. Iowa shot 37.5 percent overall in the game.

Iowa started the second half with an 8-3 run to cut the gap down to 12 points, but that was as close as it got until Garza’s 3-pointer made it 71-61 with 1:44 left.

Garza became Iowa’s all-time single-season points leader when he made two free throws with 16:47 left to get to 700, topping John Johnson’s 50-year-old record. Johnson scored 699 points in 24 games that season for the 1970 Big Ten-champion Hawkeyes.

“I’m sure that will feel good at some point,” Garza said. “Right now it’s just not important to me.”

Garza scored 26 points, his 15th-consecutive game of at least 20. No other Hawkeye had more than Joe Wieskamp’s 10. Wieskamp scored on a layup with 12 seconds left to get his team within single-digits for the first time since the first half.

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Wieskamp, Iowa’s second-leading scorer this season at 14.3 points per game, took only seven shots and two 3-pointers.

“I think he’s trying really hard to be a scorer, be a playmaker, do the right thing, do what we need him to do,” McCaffery said.

“Obviously I would prefer he get more than seven shots. We will do everything we can to get him more than seven shots.”

That includes urging him to stop passing up shots, which he did at times Tuesday. In the last five games, the sophomore is 12-of-44 for the floor (27.3 percent) and hasn’t seemed to have the same offensive aggressiveness and confidence he has showed for nearly all of his career.

“There were definitely some moments I could have taken some more shots,” Wieskamp said, “maybe pull up from deeper, maybe some shot-fakes ... different things to create my own shot. Which is all stuff that I’m working on.”

Despite his point total, Garza didn’t get many good looks close to the basket. Purdue brought the defense, and the Hawkeyes didn’t respond.

“I think you could really tell tonight they keyed in on Luka, CJ (Fredrick) and me and were kind of sagging off Connor (McCaffery) and Joe (Toussaint).

“Defensively, I think we made a lot of mistakes, just mental mistakes. The coaches did a good job preparing us for the game. To a man, we were out making silly mistakes out there.”

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Iowa junior forward Cordell Pemsl went to the trainer’s room in the first half, doubled over in pain. He returned to the Iowa bench in the second half but didn’t play again.

“He got hit in the leg,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think in and of itself would be a big deal, except he keeps getting hit in the same spot. It’s like the third or fourth time this happened to him. So that was the issue. Hopefully he’ll be better by Sunday.”

That’s when Iowa finishes its regular season, at No. 23 Illinois. The Illini are 12-6 and could conceivably be playing for the Big Ten title in that game.

The Illini play at Ohio State Thursday. If they win in Columbus, Iowa will have no chance to finish in the top four, and will begin Big Ten tournament play next Thursday.

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

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