The Hawkeyes pushed the No. 4 team in the country, though, which few people saw coming. They led at halftime before wearing down against the deep, talented Boilermakers in the 67-56 decision.
"That was very challenging, but our guys responded well, had stretches of very good basketball, but you have to play at such a high level to be able to compete against a team that plays as well as Purdue does," Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said. "We just couldn't put 40 minutes together. That's a hard thing to do, but that would be the goal.
"We're better than what we were (before the game), and we've got to maintain the same focus and the consistency that's required to grow and be the kind of team we want to be.
"I haven't looked, but I think we're probably the youngest team in the league. This is a new experience for a few of these guys."
Purdue moved to 12-0 with the victory, while Hawkeyes dropped to 5-7 in front of an announced crowd of 12,468 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It represented the league opener for both teams.
Boilermaker coach Matt Painter said his team's plan was to wear down a young Hawkeye team with a short bench by subbing frequently and playing tough defense.
"Our guys did a good job of staying with the basketball, pressuring the basketball and then really taking advantage of their lack of depth at the point guard position," Painter said. "We wanted to get a fresh body on Cully Payne and try to wear him down and really disrupt what they were trying to do."
Lickliter conceded that the Boilermakers did a good job of accomplishing their goal, but felt like his team stood up to the challenge.
"I don't think their defense backed us down," the Iowa coach said. "It was wearing and I think that's what they do."
The Iowa coaches and fans also had to be encouraged by the play of Aaron Fuller. The sophomore started for the Hawkeyes for the first time since the Duquesne game on Nov. 17. He had been hobbled with a severely sprained ankle for most of December.
Fuller scored a season-high 15 points (one short of a career best) and grabbed a career-high eight boards in 34 minutes. Freshman Eric May added 11 points, while Jarryd Cole chipped in with nine for the losers.
E-Twaun Moore paced the winners with 21 points. Robbie Hummel added 16.
The Hawkeyes entered the game short-handed at point guard with the indefinite suspension of back-up lead guard Anthony Tucker. Payne was sidelined with cramps throughout the second half. Freshman walk-on John Lickliter logged a career-high 8 minutes, scoring six points and swiping two steals without a turnover.
"John did do a good job and I thought he could spell Cully," said his father, Todd Lickliter. "If he can come in and give us some minutes and be solid, that will be terrific. The guys he grew up playing against a lot of them are in the NBA. I'm not saying he handled them by any means, I'm just saying he's seen it.
"He's played against really good players. I think that's to his advantage."
"He sure made it tough for Matt to get some touches," Lickliter said. "He may have made it tough for him to breathe. They shared the same jersey for a while there I think."
The Hawkeyes held a 27-26, halftime lead. Purdue moved ahead early after the intermission, but Iowa hung within four points, trailing 40-36 with 12:44 left in the game.
The Boilermakers shot ahead with a 13-2 run to lead 53-38 with 8:38 on the clock. Iowa fought back as a pair of May free throws cut its deficit to 59-51 with 4:28 to play in the game.
Purdue responded, not letting the home team get any closer the rest of the way.
Iowa jumped out to a 10-2 lead. May knocked down a trey and totaled five points in the run. Fuller also dropped in a three-ball.
The Boilermakers missed 13 of their first 17 shots.
-Lickliter said that nothing has changed with Tucker after the sophomore pleaded guilty to a public intoxication charge on Monday. The coach said he expected the guard to return to the team but didn't have a timeline.
-Former Cedar Rapids Kennedy/Evansville guard Kaylon Williams watched the game from behind the Iowa bench. He didn't show up until the second half.
The Hawkeyes didn't pursue Williams out of high school. After a strong freshman year with the Purple Aces, he left the program to be closer to home.
-Ryan Bowen and Wade Lookingbill took in the game with their families from courtside seats.
-Kaylon Williams sat behind the Iowa bench. He arrived in the second half.
-Lickliter's record fell to 11-26 in the Big Ten.
-Devon Archie returned to the bench after a three-game absence. The junior college transfer was suffering from pneumonia. Lickliter announced on Monday that the forward would red shirt this season.