What if I told you Zach Edey would be held to four points in the first 35 minutes of Iowa vs. Purdue? The first question that may come to mind from a Hawkeyes fan: “How many points did we win by?” Unfortunately for the Iowa faithful, the Boilermakers won by double digits, 87-73.
But, the Hawkeyes executed their game plan, which was to slow down the Big Ten’s leading scorer.
“It was just being aggressive and double teaming [Edey],” Kris Murray said after the game. “Make our rotations tight and crisp. Did a good job of that in the post but they really had a good shooter on the outside we didn’t expose because the focus was on Edey.”
Purdue shot 55% from the field, scoring 87 points aided by 21 assists. They also knocked down 10 three-pointers. Anytime Edey had the ball, the Hawkeyes sent two, sometimes even three bodies on the 7-foot-4 giant. For any team to be successful that way, they must be able to get back out to the perimeter to contest open shooters.
“Our anticipation and rotations were not good enough,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “It’s hard because they can score a lot of points and play unselfish. With Edey there, there is a lot of ground to cover.”
Rebounding was another area in which the Hawkeyes struggled. And yes, Purdue is the best rebounding team in America. But Iowa got crushed on the glass 43-23. The Boilermakers capitalized on 18 second-chance points.
But if there’s any good news, it’s that the Hawkeyes actually outscored the Boilermakers in the second half, 52-49. With just over five minutes to go in the half, the Hawkeyes were down just six points. Purdue had led by double digits for most of the game.
“Our team was not going to quit,” forward Kris Murray said. “When adversity hits, we’re going to strike back.”
The Hawkeyes played an excellent second half on the offensive side of the ball. They shot 60% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. 22 assists to 8 turnovers overall. But ultimately, Iowa dug themselves a 21-point hole, and a 17-point first-half deficit, which was too much to overcome.
“It shows our potential,” Filip Rebraca said. “Not only myself — but as a team. We’re proud but also disappointed in that first half. If you want to beat the No. 1 team in the country on the road in their house in one of the loudest places in college basketball, you have to play better.”
“Coming out of the gate, I don’t know that we ran our offense as crisply as I would have liked, but we weren’t getting bad shots,” McCaffery said. “We weren’t getting seconds. We missed 38 shots, and only got eight of them back. When you’re struggling to score, you’ve got to get a few more back.”
Hawkeye fans — if you need a pick me up, remember this: Last year Iowa went to Mackey Arena and lost, but went on to win the Big Ten Championship. It’s one game and ultimately Iowa still has all their goals ahead of them moving into the final month of the season.
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