Despite 18 points from Mike Gesell and a career-high 16 rebounds for Gabriel Olaseni, the Iowa Hawkeyes fell 67-63 against Purdue Saturday afternoon. Iowa shot just 33 percent from the field and 25 percent from three, a horrendous performance only partially mitigated by 24 offensive rebounds. The Hawkeyes also played most of the game without top scorer Aaron White, who left the game midway through the first half with a shoulder stinger.
Iowa started the game on a 10-2 run before the shooting woes set in. The Boilermakers ended the first half by outscoring the Hawkeyes 32-14, with the Boilermakers' pair of seven-foot centers putting Iowa's front line in foul trouble. Adam Woodbury eventually fouled out after playing just 17 minutes, another disappointing performance from the junior center. Olaseni was also hindered by four fouls, but collected a ridiculous 11 offensive rebounds when in action. The Hawkeyes staged a late comeback behind Gesell, who scored Iowa's last 12 points, but a three-point shot from Purdue guard Raphael Davis cemented the win.
In the end, the story of the day was the story of the season: Iowa's poor shooting. With White gone, Iowa turned to Jarrod Uthoff, but the junior forward went just 2/14 from the field and 0/5 from behind the three-point line. Olaseni was 2/10 from the floor, and Peter Jok just 2/9. Iowa's top 4 scorers -- White, Uthoff, Olaseni and Woodbury -- combined to score just 26 points and make just 29 percent of their attempts. Gesell's second-half heroics were simply not enough to overcome the top-end ineptitude. It's difficult to take much away from a road game against an improving team, played largely without Iowa's top scorer, but the shooting woes are not simply a function of Saturday. They are continuous, and they threaten to sink the season at this crucial juncture.
The Hawkeyes fall to 13-7 on the season and 4-3 in the Big Ten. This marks the third time this season that the Hawkeyes have lost back-to-back games. With Wisconsin coming to Iowa City next Saturday, Iowa is going to need a healthy White and a better Uthoff if it has any chance of keeping that losing streak from hitting three.