Only two Big Ten teams were in action tonight, but both ended up winning decisively. The Boilermakers added their first win of the week, with Howard and Youngstown State set to come to Mackey later in the week. Purdue is just outside of the top ten and hoping to sneak in by next week's polls, though they may need wins against Butler and Vanderbilt to do so. As for Iowa, they blew past Western Illinois tonight and should end up ranked if they can upset rival Iowa State on Thursday.
Game of the Night: Purdue 80 IUPUI 53
When it comes to Purdue basketball, I think that the first half or so of tonight's game against IUPUI shows how far expectations have grown in West Lafayette. Purdue, who is currently just outside of the top ten, was never in a position where the Jaguars truly threatened, but heading into the break only up eight points, it was easy to admit that the performance was honestly somewhat disappointing. Of course part of that had to do with facing a Jaguar team that has struggled considerably on offense, yet managed to hang around for over half of tonight's game.
Things normalized considerably as the night went on, with Purdue running away with the game in the second half. As the Jaguars went ice cold from the field it seemed like the Boilers finally found their stride on offense. This wasn't the first time the Boilers have followed this routine, allowing Lehigh to not fall completely out of it until the second half earlier in the season as well. While the start was a bit more sluggish than hoped for, Purdue seems to be closing games in impressive fashion, something the team hasn't always shown the capacity to do in the past.
The second half was all Purdue, with the Boilers outscoring their opponent 42-23. Even though Purdue didn't particularly impress from deep (31.8% from three on 22 attempts), the team took advantage of their size and dominated inside. A.J. Hammons, who was named the Big Ten player of the week, hit all six of his shots and scored 14 points off the bench, while starting center Isaac Haas was one of five Purdue players to reach double figures. Caleb Swanigan had the most impressive night, though, with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. Once things settled down, the Purdue defense ended up holding IUPUI to a woeful 32.8% shooting performance and only 53 points.
Iowa 90 Western Illinois 56
Heading into the Iowa game tonight, Western Illinois entered the nation with the highest three point shooting percentage in the country, converting 50.4% of their 119 attempts. Tonight at Iowa, though, the Leathernecks couldn't find their touch and it made for a very long night against Iowa. The Hawkeyes have been no stranger to offense, scoring points in bunches this season, and hit the ground running in the first half as they scored 53 points in the first 20 minutes.
J.C. Fuller and Garret Covington, who averaged 72.2% and 51.6 from deep heading into tonight, hit on only four of their 15 three pointers, with the Leathernecks only managing to shoot a dreadful 34.4% from the field and 23.8% from beyond the arc. As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes shot over 50% from the field, with forward Jarrod Uthoff having a big night with 27 points and 9 rebounds. Also impressing was Dom Uhl off the bench, adding 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Iowa managed to force plenty of turnovers as well and faced next to no challenge throughout the night. The game tonight was another impressive win for Iowa, though their next outing will be considerably tougher when they face off against Iowa State.