IOWA CITY, Ia. – Toughness. Intensity. Passion. Pride.
All those adjectives can be used to describe the character and play of Chris Street, the former Hawkeye great who passed away 25 years ago in a car accident during his junior season. On Saturday, when the Iowa Hawkeyes hosted a top-3 ranked Purdue team and honored Street – with his family and dozens of former Hawkeye players and coaches in attendance – none of those adjectives could be used to describe the team’s play.
Iowa fell behind early and never were able to claw back, falling to the Boilermakers, 87–64. The Hawkeyes outscored Purdue in the second half, but a 31-point halftime deficit left Iowa in a hole they could not come out of.
For Purdue (19–2, 8–0 Big Ten), the win marks the end of a four game losing streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena that dated back six years. The Boilermakers sank 11 three-pointers in the first half and nine in the second half to set a school record for made 3-point field goals in a single game. They shot 61% from deep.
Iowa (10–10, 1–7 Big Ten) took an early 3–0 lead just over two minutes into the game, but would never lead again. Four minutes later, the Boilermakers had hit four threes and held a 17–6 advantage. The Hawkeyes were never able to figure out a defensive plan to stop a staggering offensive attack from Purdue in the first half.
“They shoot it, they can throw it inside, and they can share it,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “They have a special team.”
Purdue’s starting lineup, with four seniors and one sophomore, scored 70 of the team’s 87 points. The only time Purdue struggled to score was late in the second half, long after the team’s starters had departed.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue’s crafty young point guard, led the team with 22 points, including connecting on 6 of 9 three-point attempts. The Boilers’ 6-foot-8 power forward Vincent Edwards (of no relation) had 19 points, including 3 made threes. Dakota Mathias and P. J. Thompson also scored in double figures for Purdue.
For Iowa, Luka Garza led the team with 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting from the floor, much of which came during a complete takeover by the freshman big man in the second half.
“I got a couple shots from the outside, got shots from the inside,” said Garza on his second-half performance. “I was feeling it for a little bit there.”
Iowa got unusually unproductive play from Tyler Cook, who was 3 of 8 from the floor and failed to reach double figures in points for just the sixth time this season. Jordan Bohannon also scored just nine, and hit only one three-pointer after hitting five in each of his last three games.
Perhaps the best summation of Iowa’s performance came with just under three minutes left to play in the first half. With the Hawkeyes trailing by 29, a packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena let out sarcastic cheers after a missed three-point shot by Carsen Edwards. Dom Uhl collected the rebound and threw an outlet pass down to Cordell Pemsl, who was all alone for a layup – before it was blocked from behind by a sprinting Vincent Edwards, who turned the block into a layup of his own, extending Purdue’s lead.
Never in the game did Iowa show as much defensive effort as Purdue did on that possession. Even as the Boilermakers continued to sink three-pointers with little effort from the top of the key, Iowa failed to make immediate adjustments to their on-ball defense.
When questioned about Iowa’s defensive game plan, McCaffery pointed to Purdue’s senior big man, 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas, as a reason for why the defense was not guarding the three-point line as hard. Yet Haas only played 18 minutes due to foul trouble and took only one shot – which he made.
Asked if he felt that the messages he was sending to the team, which has now lost five of its past six, were being received, a discouraged McCaffery replied that he has “seen change”. Whatever change he saw did not show up for the Hawkeyes on Saturday morning.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” Bohannon said. “At the end of the day that’s the attitude you have to have during adversity.”
Iowa is back in action on Tuesday when they host Wisconsin.