Iowa remains unblemished in Big Ten play after taking down Purdue for the second time, this time 83-71 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Shots weren't falling for the Hawkeyes in the first half but they began to in the second half along with strong interior defense from Adam Woodbury. In a game that was marred with plenty fouls, Iowa was able to handle the Boilermakers rather easily in the second half and coasted to their seventh conference win of the regular season.
Jarrod Uthoff lead all scorers with 22 points while he was supplemented by 13 from both Adam Woodbury and Peter Jok. Anthony Clemmons gave Iowa four in double figures as he put up 10 points, 6 of them coming at the foul line. It was another double-double performance from Woodbury who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Here are my takeaways....
BEST GAME OF YEAR FROM ADAM WOODBURY
To have 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Purdue big men, is astonishing. He was superb today. Woodbury has been good all year but even moreso today. He was tough in the rebojding portion, chasing after loose balls, and he out-physicaled the posts for the Boilermakers, something that rarely happens. Two double-doubles in a row for the Hawkeye center.
READY FOR PRIMETIME
When you're 7-0 in the league and have swept both Michigan State and Purdue, you're one of the best teams in America. They do not shy away from the biggest stages, in front of the biggest crowds, against the biggest teams. They still have to fend off challenges from Indiana and Maryland to prove themselves even more, but the Hawkeyes have established themselves as an elite team that shows up and performs at a high level in pumped-up contests.
CHEMISTRY EVEN WITH DIFFERENT LINEUPS
Iowa tossed out a variety of different lineups against the Boilermakers, even one where Brady Ellingson, Nicholas Baer, Dom Uhl, and Ahmad Wagner were all on the floor at the same time with starting point guard Mike Gesell. That lineup had just the same amount as the chemistry as the typical ones. Uhl hit a three, Baer hit a three, Ellingson hit a three. They were all in rhythm and within the flow of the offense. No matter who is on the floor there is a lot of cohesion on the offensive end to the point where they always know where each other will be. It's phenomenal to watch. Fran McCaffery has this team clicking and humming on the offensive end.
JARROD UTHOFF IS BEST IN BIG TEN, HOW ABOUT COUNTRY?
He's definitely the frontrunner for the Big Ten Player of the Year at this point and it may take a lot to catch him at this point. He's so fun to watch. Uthoff can score from anywhere on the floor at any time. He shoots it at a high clip nearly every outing. He's nails on the defensive end and an elite rebounder and shot blocker. He also has a high basketball IQ and terrific vision to notice when the double-team comes and be able to find the open man underneath the basket like he did a few times with Adam Woodbury. He puts on a clinic when he's on the court. He'll be in the discussion to win the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
I always leave the last takeaway as the negative portion and one of the failures today is one that has been occurring repeatedly with this year's Iowa squad. They struggle to finish the games, whether it is getting out of sync on the offensive end, falling asleep on the defensive side of the ball, or just failing to win games at the free throw line. They were terrible at the line today, especially Clemmons and Gesell. They didn't close the game out, Purdue just couldn't respond from all the Hawkeye haymakers earlier in the game. They have to remedy that before it becomes a real problem in March.
The rebounding was also awful. It improved in the second half but they were beat up on the boards by Purdue. A lot of that is size and having only one true center on the roster in Adam Woodbury. They were being out-rebounded by double digits in the first half but they did end up trimming the margin to eight.
The fouls were bad, too. I know some will blame the officials but only so much can be put at the feet of the referees. You have to be able to defend without fouling.
Have to play D without fouling (some of it is due to Baer not having strength.) (Rebounding) (Finishing, free throws)