Purdue at Iowa: Iowa wins the game 78-59.
As someone posted in the HN Clubhouse forum near the end of the Iowa-Purdue game, when you figure out the game of basketball in the Big Ten, let me know.
Well, life on the road in this league has always been tough. That's a constant, and something Iowa fans have seen this year.
But what we have witnessed in the last 10 days goes from the bizarre to the sublime.
Submitted for your review:
On February 7th, Purdue beats Michigan State 62-38 in West Lafayette. Three days later, they lose by seven at Ohio State and were within two points with less than a minute to play against the nation's #1 team. On 2/15, Purdue blasts Indiana 81-68 at home.
Meanwhile, in Iowa City….
Starting on 1/31, Iowa beat Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota in a three game string. They lost by 12 at Wisconsin by 12, came home to beat Northwestern, and then lost to Michigan State by 32 on Saturday. The same Michigan State team that had scored just 38 points at Purdue 10 days prior.
So of course Iowa would blow Purdue out of the gym on Wednesday night in Iowa City.
Purdue had been playing as good as anyone in the league entering Wednesday night's game, and the Hawkeyes were coming off one of their worst losses in decades.
Yet Iowa was the team that came out of the gates with an energy level that was noticeably different than what it showed on Saturday against the Spartans.
Iowa's offensive efficiency in the first half was a thing of beauty as well. It was for much of the game, as Iowa had 21 assists on 25 field goals against the Boilermakers. That's real, real good, in case you don't pay attention to those things on a game by game basis. Iowa outscored Purdue 32-16 in the paint, as many of Iowa's first half buckets came at point blank range off of half court sets.
Iowa also won the battle on the glass (36-28) against an undersized Purdue team. That margin was roughly +10 during the second half before the subs entered the game.
Iowa shot 56% from the floor for the game, compared to just 40% for Purdue. Purdue committed 19 turnovers to Iowa's 18. Iowa held Carl Landry, the third leading scorer in the Big Ten, to a season low 11 points. David Teague scored 13, a point off of his average, but he was 5-14 from the floor.
Hey, the coaches have to have something to work on, right?
Adam Haluska scored 11 for Iowa. Wisconsin's Alando Tucker had 16 Tuesday night against Michigan State. That leaves Haluska 14 points ahead of Tucker in Big Ten scoring this year. Both players have two games remaining; Tucker would need to outscore Haluska by an average of 7.5 points per game to claim the scoring title.
Cyrus Tate scored 11 points for Iowa and pulled down 10 rebounds. Tyler Smith had a solid game, scoring 18 points and dishing out seven assists to just one turnover.
With the win, Iowa improved to 16-12 overall and 8-6 in league play.
The win ensured a winning season for Iowa this year, its seventh in a row. It also ensures that Iowa will finish no worse than 8-8 in league play. Iowa has had eight or more wins in league play just two other times during the Steve Alford era.
I have said this before and I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but there were few, very few, people around the nation that thought Iowa would win eight games in the Big Ten this year.
Iowa is currently tied with Illinois for 4th place in the Big Ten standings, with Indiana one-half game ahead of them at 8-5. Purdue is 6-7.
Iowa has a week off before it travels to Penn State, then it closes the regular season at home against Illinois. In my opinion, Purdue was the best team remaining on Iowa's schedule.
Purdue plays Northwestern twice and hosts Minnesota in their final three games.
Illinois is at Penn State and Iowa to close the year.
Michigan State is 7-6 right now, and they have Indiana at home on Saturday before closing the year with two road games; at Michigan and Wisconsin.
Indiana is at Northwestern, at Michigan State and home against Penn State.
If Iowa can win its last two games, that would put them at 10-6. There's a fairly decent chance that 10 wins gets you a share of third place in the Big Ten.
I felt that Iowa had a realistic chance to go 5-2 over its last seven league games; the losses being at Wisconsin and Purdue. So far, Iowa is on that exact pace. Now, they just have to finish.
If they can get that third seed in the Big Ten tournament, that would be a very good hole to come out of. The three-seed plays the winner of the 6/11 game. If you can win that, you play the two seed on Saturday, and that is likely going to be Wisconsin.
And as I said before, I like Iowa's chances against Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament.
Give me the three or the six seed for Iowa; those are the holes I want to see them come out of.