On a day when former legend Rick Mount was finally back in the house for the Purdue Boilermakers, the first half looked like Purdue had five of him on the court. A funny thing happened, though: nobody told the Hawkeyes they were supposed to roll over and pack it in. What ensued was one of the all-time great comebacks in program history, full stop, as the Iowa Hawkeyes roared to a 70-63 victory in front of a stunned Mackey Arena.
Iowa's first half couldn't have gone worse, with Purdue burying seven of its first 10 three-pointers, while Iowa players not named Jarrod Uthoff were a mind-numbing 2-for-19 from the field for a combined four points before the break. Purdue's largest lead of the game came with 2:20 left in the half when a Kendall Stephens jumper pushed the score to 37-18, capping a 26-7 run. Iowa played like it had a lid on the basket, and the Boilermakers couldn't miss.
After halftime, Iowa switched to a 1-2-2 trap defense, and Purdue simply could not handle the pressure from Anthony Clemmons and Peter Jok (who has become an absolute nightmare on the perimeter in the best way possible). As both teams' shooting normalized—Iowa's jumpers finally went in, the Boilermakers' finally didn't—and the Hawkeyes forced turnover after turnover, Iowa ripped off a 30-8 run and seized control of the game.
Iowa dropped a FIFTY SPOT on (supposedly) the best defense in college basketball in the second half.— Black Heart (@BHGP) January 3, 2016
Uthoff ended up with a game-high 25 points to go along with five blocks, and he made super frosh Caleb Swanigan's life a living hell, but remember how his teammates scored four points in the first half? They scored 41 in the second. This was about the team coming back to life, starting with the defense; the points were merely the by-product.
Everyone played well in the second half. Mike Gesell went Slot Machine and finished with a 7-7-7 line, Dom Uhl hit a pair of big threes, Adam Woodbury virtually erased Purdue's bigs from the offensive flow, Nicholas Baer tossed in seven points on three shots, and added a pair of blocks, Clemmons finished with four steals and broke his defender's ankles before hitting a three-pointer that got Iowa to single digits and forced a panic timeout (part of Purdue's ludicrously bad game management that culminated in the last TO being used with about 10 minutes left). The Hawkeyes were 18-for-28 from the field in the second half, and their confidence seemed to grow with each made bucket. It was beautiful.
There were reasons to say the win over #1 Michigan State wasn't all that great. Home court, Iowa's favored, no Denzel Valentine, Tom Izzo says his guys didn't give good enough effort, yeah yeah yeah. Those excuses are out the window now. Iowa stepped into what'll be one of their three toughest places to play in the B1G this season (Michigan State and Maryland still loom), took several of Purdue's best shots, spat out a couple teeth, and unleashed hell.
Division I teams in the last 20 seasons to start conference play 2-0 with both wins over AP Top 15 teams: 2014-15 Seton Hall 2015-16 Iowa— Matt Benson (@mbenson6) January 3, 2016
Once again: this team isn't weathering the storm. This team is the storm. It is the danger. And it's time for the rest of the Big Ten to recognize.
Now, you know what time it is.
GO. IOWA. AWESOME.