The Iowa Hawkeyes knocked off top ranked Michigan State last Tuesday and aimed for another win over a ranked opponent when they traveled to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers.
I don’t even know where to begin with this one.
It seemed as though everyone had written the Hawkeyes off when Purdue hit them with a flurry of three point field goals midway through the first half. Iowa got off to a good start, but got sloppy and Purdue was making it rain from distance. With Iowa leading 13-11, the Boilers went on a 16-0 run before Jarrod Uthoff ended it with a three point play, just like that it was 27-16.
It was like being hit with several haymakers as Purdue, who doesn’t shoot the three extraordinarily well, was 6-10 from beyond the arc early on. Going into the locker room, there wasn’t a lot of optimism as Iowa found themselves down 17 and looking lost.
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With the way Iowa was playing defensively and the way Purdue was playing defensively, no one predicted what happened next.
The two teams traded baskets to start the half, but then Iowa’s 1-2-2 press started to bother the Boilers, who lack a true point guard. With the score locked at 46-35 the Hawkeyes buried two three point field goals, one from Mike Gesell, the other from Dom Uhl, to cut the Purdue lead to 5 and force Matt Painter to call a timeout.
Iowa got an immediate steal out of the timeout and a layup to cut the lead to three. Iowa then trapped Purdue in the front-court and someone – apparently – called timeout, which just so happened to be their last of the game. There was 10 minutes left.
Iowa’s pressure continued to affect the Boilers and with 3:30 left Iowa led by seven. It was so confusing because it happened so fast that you almost didn’t know where the points were coming from. After Uthoff hit 1 of 2 at the line with less that two minutes left, Iowa’s lead was five and Purdue had the ball.
Purdue would have an empty trip and Gesell found a streaking Nicholas Baer for the easy deuce to push the Iowa lead to seven.
Free throws looked a little shaky down the stretch, but Iowa prevailed by a final score of 70-63 to shock the Boilers in one of the toughest arena’s to play in in the country.
It’s crazy how much a 15 minute break in the action can affect teams. In the first half, Purdue was unstoppable and Iowa couldn’t get anything. In the second half, the teams just switched roles. Purdue looked lost and Iowa looked like a well oiled machine. You can credit most of that to Anthony Clemmons and Baer, those two were huge in the second half.
Uthoff led the way with 25 points and five blocks. He got help from, well, everybody. With the exception of Ahmad Wagner and Brady Ellingson, every other Hawkeye scored between 6 and 11 points. Freshman Nicholas Baer, who looked a little lost in the first half, finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds and was perfect from the field.
Iowa (11-3, 2-0) will now travel back to Iowa City and welcome in the Nebraska Cornhuskers on January 5th. I don’t think anyone would’ve been able to predict a 2-0 start to Big Ten play considering the schedule, but here we are. The Hawkeyes will undoubtedly find themselves ranked in the AP Poll this upcoming week.
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