Iowa Men's Basketball

Points in Transition: Iowa vs. Purdue preview

Hawkeyes get No. 3 Boilermakers in Chris Street Memorial game

Iowa's Tyler Cook puts up a shot against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 4, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa's Tyler Cook puts up a shot against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 4, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

There’s nothing like following up a 16-point loss on the road at Rutgers with the No. 3 team in the nation coming to town. Iowa has such a mountain to climb in Saturday’s Chris Street Memorial Game, as Purdue will be at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as somehow a better team than a year ago despite losing Caleb Swanigan.

For every conference game, we’ll look at key players, strengths and weaknesses for both teams and the key to winning for both sides. Here’s a breakdown of the matchup between Iowa and No. 3 Purdue, which tips off at 11 a.m. Saturday on ESPN:

Player to Watch

Iowa: Tyler Cook, forward — A player as good as Cook not having a huge impact on the game makes for a noticeable drop-off in performance for the Hawkeyes. He knows how Jordan Bohannon feels in being a target, but he’s not facing it while holding the ball 90 feet from the basket. He said Friday that “getting open ourselves,” is a way to help relieve some pressure from Bohannon. With so much talent for the Boilermakers, Cook is the primary person charged with doing that Saturday.

Purdue: Carsen Edwards, guard — Originally had Vincent Edwards slotted here, but it’s hard to look over one of the best players in the country. Edwards currently is 10th in’s Player of the Year rankings, in the same conversation as Trae Young from Oklahoma, Marvin Bagley from Duke and Keita Bates-Diop from Ohio State. And oh by the way, he’s a sophomore, like most of the Hawkeyes. He and Jordan Bohannon are going to face off on the perimeter, and Bohannon will have to offset a guy who finds and makes efficient shots, shares the ball efficiently and defends well without fouling.


Iowa: This is a tough section right now. What the Hawkeyes have been good at this season, they’ve not been good enough for long enough.

Maybe the best attribute to Iowa’s offense in the last few games has been Jordan Bohannon’s ability to score while others haven’t and while opponents are marking him. He’s not played perfectly, to be certain — his assist-to-turnover ratio in the last three games is 12-to-14 (0.86-to-1) — but he’s also scored 23 points per game in the last three games while shooting 42.9 percent overall and 48.4 percent from 3-point range.


Without that scoring, the Maryland and Rutgers games almost certainly are much bigger losses, and the second half-comeback against Illinois doesn’t have as much heft. He’s done that while playing 38 minutes per game in those last three.

“I will assess how he’s playing and is he tired during the games, and if he’s tired, we’ll take him out,” head coach Fran McCaffery said at a news conference Friday. “If he doesn’t want to come out, and I think he’s perfectly capable of playing 40 minutes if he had to.

“Jordan’s in pretty good shape and a pretty tough kid. He’s more than capable of playing the minutes we’re giving him. I’m not even worried about that.”

Purdue: This section could be pages and pages. The Boilermakers are top 100 or better in all but six individual statistical categories on KenPom — including both offense and defense. They’re No. 6 in adjusted offense at 1.200 points per possession and No. 5 on defense at 0.887 ppp. They’re No. 2 in Big Ten play offensively and No. 1 defensively in those categories.

Since back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky, Purdue’s average margin of victory is 21.5, and that includes a 31-point win against Rutgers, a 34-point win against Minnesota and, on Tuesday, a 28-point win against Wisconsin.

The Boilermakers share the ball well, put the ball in good spots to be able to score from every part of the floor, are smart about the shots they take and shoot well when they do. They play mostly man and can face up against anyone with effectiveness.

“They run good stuff and they have counters to it, which makes it really hard to guard,” McCaffery said. “You can’t just say, OK, when they come down and they line up like this, they’re going to run that. Well, they might, but they might run four other things that are similar to that.

“The thing you always say about a team like that is you’ve got to beat them. They’re not going to come in here and turn it over. They’re not going to come in and take bad shots. That’s why they’re ranked third.”


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Iowa: There’s a number of ways we could go with this — again — but let’s defer to what Hawkeye players had to say Friday.

From Tyler Cook:

“I just think we’ve got to be more focused and give a better effort defensively,” Cook said. “We’ve got to play harder than we have been.

“I just think collectively, we haven’t played hard enough against good teams. I don’t think it’s complicated.”

From Cordell Pemsl:

“Honestly I really don’t think it’s anything physical,” Pemsl said. “It’s a mentality thing, which doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t. I feel like sometimes we’re not thinking in situations; we’re reacting to things.

“You almost don’t have an answer to it. You don’t understand. It’s hard to be in the position we’re in now. We’ve tried a lot of things.”

Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t had much bad to write home about this season, but did lose back to back games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in non-conference play.

In those games, a couple weaknesses were exposed. In the loss to Tennessee, Purdue had 13 team assists to 18 turnovers, four bench points and shot worse than 40 percent from the field and 3-point range. In the follow-up loss to Western Kentucky, Purdue had 17 assists but still 13 turnovers, eight bench points and shot a paltry 29.6 percent from 3-point range.


Purdue relies heavily on its starters, but more recently has gotten great contributions from Matt Haarms (7-foot-3, 250 pounds) and Ryan Cline off the bench. If Purdue has an off-night shooting from its top four guys — Carsen and Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas and Dakota Mathias — they have shown that the others aren’t always capable of picking up the slack.

Iowa wins if …

the Hawkeyes can be effective enough on defense to force the Boilermakers into bad shots, limit their ability to share the ball and do the reverse on offense. Assist-to-turnover ratio is important Saturday, as is the rebounding battle.

Purdue wins if …

the Boilermakers play as they have been in the last several weeks. It’s not really more complicated than that. Purdue has all the tools to expose Iowa as Maryland and Rutgers did, and can do it with more emphasis.

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