By Pat Harty
The Big Ten road continues to be filled with costly pot holes for the Iowa men’s basketball team, with the latest damage coming at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers made 19 3-point baskets and jumped all over No. 17 Iowa in the first half and then spent the rest of the game building on its lead while cruising to a 104-68 victory.
Iowa fell to 1-4 on the road in the Big Ten this season has lost 10 of its last 11 games at Mackey Arena, so what happened on Wednesday hardly was a surprise.
The surprise was just how poorly Iowa played, especially early in the first half when Purdue dominated on the offensive boards, and on defense where Iowa struggled from start to finish.
You name a part of defense and Iowa failed miserably, from defending the 3-point shot, to defending in transition to defending in half-court sets.
Purdue led by 25 points at halftime, and it felt almost like the game was over at that point, even with Iowa’s ability to score points in a hurry.
The Boilermakers shot lights out, making 19-of-34 3-point field-goal attempts, but many of the baskets came on uncontested jump shots. It was the second most 3-point baskets that Purdue has ever made in game.
"We didn't do any of the stuff that we talked about," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said in reference to defense on the Learfield post-game radio show. "I shouldn't say that. We attempted to, but we were late. Everything was late.
"We were a step slow in reacting. We were a step slow in getting through a screen, and therefore, the passer has a clean look inside and the shooter has enough time to pull the trigger, or drive the close out.
"Multiple mistakes that have to be corrected."
Iowa’s performance on defense was similar to two seasons ago when the Hawkeyes performed woefully on defense while finishing 14-19 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten.
Purdue entered Wednesday game barely averaging 60 points per contest under veteran head coach Matt Painter, but had 61 at halftime.
The 104 points was also the most that Purdue has scored in a home game since 1975.
The Big Ten Conference also reported through @BTNStatsGuys that Purdue's 36-point win is tied for the third largest margin of victory for an unranked team over a ranked team this century.
The challenge now for Iowa is to not let this embarrassing loss linger and turn into two losses with Nebraska up next on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Cornhuskers are struggling under first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, but they also defeated Iowa 76-70 on Jan. 7th in Lincoln, Neb.
And with Iowa’s performance against Purdue on Wednesday, nothing should be taken for granted.
"I just kind of credit Matt Painter and his group," said Iowa senior forward Ryan Kriener on the Learfield post-game radio show. "They played unbelievably hard tonight. They got their hands on all the rebounds and had everything kind of go their way.
"We just needed to be tougher. We needed to be more mentallky focused, and I think that's something we're going to do when we play Nebraska."
Iowa performed woefully during a loss to DePaul in the second game of the season at home, and also allowed 103 points in a loss at Michigan in December, but those beat-downs were considered outliers.
The question now is whether Wednesday’s mauling at Mackey Arena was another fluke or outlier or aberration.
Purdue did something similar to Michigan State and Virginia at Mackey Arena, so at least, Iowa is keeping good company.
Garza made a basket to give a 2-0 lead, but then Purdue scored 17 consecutive points and had five offensive rebounds barely three minutes into the game.
Garza finally ended Iowa’s scoring drought by converting an old-fashioned 3-point play with 15:52 left in the first half, cutting the deficit to 17-5.
Wieskamp then made a jump shot near the free throw line, but Purdue countered with a 3-pointer by senior forward Evan Boudreaux that pushed the lead to 20-7 with about 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
Iowa spent the rest of the first half trying to play catch-up in a hostile environment, but it didn’t go well as Purdue built a 27-point lead and led 61-36 at halftime.
It was the most points that Purdue has scored in one half under Painter, who is in his 15th season as head coach.
The Boilermakers made 11 3-point baskets in the first half, while Iowa only made two on 11 attempts. That’s a difference of 27 points from 3-point range in one half.
Garza scored 12 of Iowa’s first 16 points and had 17 by halftime. He finished with 26 points, but only had one rebound, which is more than nine below his average.
Purdue guard Jahaad Proctor made back-to-back 3-point baskets, and Purdue center Matt Haarms converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Boilermakers a 39-18 lead with 8 minutes left in the first half.
The game was all but decided at that point as Iowa failed to make any significant run in what proved to be a rare but miserable performance.