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#4 Hawkeyes beat Purdue, 70-55, to open Big Ten play

Luka Garza led the way with 22 as the Hawkeyes leaned on defense to open conference play with a win

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 Iowa Hawkeyes (7-1, 1-0) returned to Big Ten play in classic Big Ten fashion with a 70-55 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers (6-3, 1-1). Luka Garza led the way, per usual with 22 points and 9 rebounds. His three with 2:28 put the Hawks up 12 and the game out of reach despite the Boilers’ best efforts.

It was Iowa’s lowest scoring game of the season, but they were the highest scoring team tonight, and that’s all that matters.

Iowa won this game with defensive rebounding and improved effort at doing the little things. The Boilermakers had just nine offensive rebounds, a shade below their season average and well below what they’ve done against Iowa of late.

Fran regularly went to the press after even made baskets which played a hand in Purdue’s 14 turnovers. Iowa scored 20 points off those turns. They did it all without fouling as a team and had just 10 on the game.

Behind Garza’s effort, who sat for some time after picking up his third foul early in the second half, was Joe Wieskamp. He continued his assertive play with 17 points on 6/13 shooting and 9 rebounds.

It was clear there was a concerted effort to adjust to Big Ten play as Iowa did not simply wait for shots to fall on a night where they shot 43% from the field but they were strong from deep, at 35% from three. They focused on the little things and stuck to the game plan.

Just one example, but Sasha Stefanovic had just 8 points on 3/7 shooting and was generally not a factor as CJ Fredrick stuck to him throughout the night. Fredrick was team-high +25 on the night. Of course there were some open shots which didn’t fall for Purdue but Iowa made them work their offense in the most “grindy” game we have seen so far this season.

Jordan Bohannon had an up-and-down night and finished with 9 points on 3/8 shooting (all threes), including the 300th of his career. Keegan Murray looked great in more extended time, with 7 points on 3/3 shooting and general peskiness in his 12 minutes. Joe Toussaint remains underutilized but was dynamic without scoring a point. Seriously why is he playing just 11 minutes?

It was a good team win to show what Iowa can do when they don’t score 80 points. Will it quell the haters? Probably not, but it was a win in a way Iowa hasn’t had a win yet this season and bodes well for conference play which will be full of games like tonight.

Edited to revisit pregame questions:

Can Fran McCaffery find the right mix at point guard? Jordan Bohannon’s and Joe Toussaint’s minutes add up to exactly 40. Bohannon played a fine game, overall, but there is a gear JT plays with few in the league do. He impacts the game every minute he’s on the court in a variety of ways even on nights where he doesn’t score a bucket.

Personally, I’d like to see him used more often - right now he’s operating in a way which more or less spells Bo, who starts and finishes both halves - but it’s tough to argue with the current rotation. I suspect different matchups will dictate different usage.

How does Iowa finish possessions? Purdue had the lowest offensive rebounding rate (24%) of any Hawkeye opponent this year.

Thank you, next.

Can Iowa defend the three? I think you live with 8/25 from your opponent in 2020-21, especially since the Boilers came into tonight shooting 39%. Neither of Purdue’s shooters caught a rhythm as Brandon Newman’s 3/7 did not feel especially back breaking. Most importantly, Purdue never really used their shooting to spark a run, as the final 3:53 came without a basket.