In a contest that saw north of 20 ties and lead changes with no shortage of physical play from both teams, the Iowa Hawkeyes took down #17 Purdue in Iowa City on Thursday night. Fran McCaffery’s squad got a little revenge just a little over two weeks after the team took a 22 point drubbing from these same Boilermakers in Indiana.
It was yet another close game in what is becoming the norm for Big Ten conference games early on this season. Purdue got out to an early lead and stretched it to nine points at half but the hot shooting and crisp passing of Peter Jok brought Iowa storming back in the second half when they outscored Purdue by 14. Purdue went cold over the final moments of the game and almost looked rattled for a good portion of the second half as the team had no answer for Jok.
The loss drops Purdue to 14-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten while Iowa gets back in the hunt and is now tied with Purdue, Northwestern and Minnesota for 5th place in the conference standings.What We Learned
What We Learned
1. Purdue is still a team to beat in the Big Ten.
Even in a loss, Purdue still looked like a team to be reckoned with in the conference. If it weren’t for the team going ice cold down the stretch and missing shots that they hit 9 times out of 10, then the Boilermakers win this one with room to spare. Going to Iowa and getting a win isn’t easy and it looked, for a while, like Purdue was going to run away with this one.
No one in the Big Ten can match this team up front with Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas, and Vincent Edwards roaming in the paint. And while they didn’t necessarily show it tonight against Iowa, this is one of the best rebounding trio’s in the country.
Purdue was +12 from the free throw line and +15 from beyond the arc. Those are the type of stats that you want to see from a team with NCAA Tournament aspirations and those are the types of stats that produce wins the majority of the time.
2. Iowa’s Freshman Class is really good.
The box score might indicate that it was Peter Jok’s night and while I don’t want to take anything away from his performances since it was one of the better gutsiest ones I’ve seen this season, one of my biggest takeaways from tonight’s game is the potential of this Iowa team as they grow and develop as a unit.
Four of the team’s top five scorers are freshmen and six of the top seven are underclassmen. Cordell Pemsl looks like he is going to be a solid player up front for this team with Jordan Bohannon keeping up the family name as he will be this team’s lead guard for the foreseeable future. Add in a Tyler Cook and an Isiah Moss to go along with the rest of the young talent on this roster and you have a recipe for success over the next few seasons for this program.
3. Caleb Swanigan Could Be First Round Material.
After an extremely productive freshman campaign where he averaged over 10 points and 8 rebounds per contest, Swanigan made the smart move and decided against heading to the NBA for another season of development with Matt Painter and company. The big man from Fort Wayne would have been a fringe first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft but was a prime candidate to fall on draft night with teams just not loving his average athleticism and quickness.
Fast forward just a few short months and the sophomore is putting together one of the better seasons in Big Ten history. Swanigan already has four 20/20 games under his belt and has been an absolute monster through the first couple of weeks of conference play. He’s become a more consistent threat from beyond the arc as evidenced by his (average) including (tonight’s stats). He’s currently projected as a second round prospect by NBADraft.net (45th) and DraftExpress (57th) but something tells me that he will have worked his way into first round territory with a few more outings like the ones he’s put together so far this season. He’s a man among boys on the court most nights and is a huge part of the success that this program is having to this point in the season.
Thursday night provided a glimpse into reality for this year’s Big Ten teams. Anybody can win or lose on any night. Purdue played pretty well, but ultimately, Iowa just had too much and stole a key win. It will be interesting to see how both teams move forward from this in the coming days.