It was Senior Day at Carver Hawkeye Arena and only one player was honored, but he played inspired...and so did the rest of his team. Jarryd Cole has played well against the Boilers in the past- he did so last season, but this was his best game versus our Boilers. He finished with a team-leading 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawkeyes seemingly wanted to send Cole out in style...and they did by giving the beleaguered Hawkeye fans a reason to cheer in a rebuilding season.
All season, we had given Coach Fran and the Hawkeyes a ton of credit for being better than their record...sadly, we saw proof of their improvement at the worst-possible time.
On the 50/50 plays, Iowa won almost all of them. If the Hawkeyes needed a rebound...they got it. Fran's squad played like they were the ones looking to cinch up a high seed and close locale for the NCAA tourney...and their opponent acted as if grit and guts were optional on this Saturday evening.
Purdue's effort was atrocious. Its defense was uninspired and the effort on the glass was lax at best. Just as we ask for our favorite team to get credit when they hold a team down and force them into a game they don't want to play, Iowa deserves the credit. They made Purdue look un-Purdue like...and the fellas in the black uniforms better not miss this: Purdue is not talented enough top to bottom to not play as a cohesive unit.
Matty's boys pride themselves on being a team that has someone step up each contest in unexpected ways...there was none of that today. In fact, even the guys you expect big things from wilted and disappeared.
You look at the stats and might say, "No one was helping Jackson and Johnson." But the truth is everyone on Purdue failed at some point in this contest.
With over 13 minutes left, JJ had 20 points...he ended with 22. The shots that are typically-automatic for him weren't falling. His 12 boards and 2 blocks were good, but down the stretch with Purdue needed to grab one of Iowa's missed shots, he couldn't come up with the ball. Plus, the help defense that Purdue seems to funnel toward Johnson seemed to fail on the backside quite a few times in the game.
I liked what I saw from Jackson at times today. But, it was clear that the hand injury knocked him down a rung, at least for a portion of the second half. He didn't push the ball, which is critical in this system and Purdue got very few easy run outs. He finished with 13pts, 4reb, 4ast, 4stls, but it wasn't enough.
Byrd, Smith, TJohn, Hart and Moore finished 5-of-23 from behind the arc. It seemed that after Jackson, no one was willing to shoot anything inside of 20ft. 9in. But why? Once again, it was a lazy looking offense. In fact, with just over a minute left and Purdue down by 2, Purdue missed two threes, got both rebounds and looked like they were going to shoot another three...so Painter signaled for a timeout. After the timeout, Byrd shot and missed a 24 footer...I'm hoping Matty didn't draw that up.
Moore was on the bench for a long stretch (around 10:00) in the first half due to foul trouble, but he didn't do a whole bunch outside of his 13 points when given the opportunity. His usual ability to make his teammates better through rebounding and dealing the ball simply wasn't there as he finished with 1 board, 1 assist and 1 steal.
Barlow wasn't in sync either- he finished with 4 points, shot 2/5 from the stripe, had 2 turnovers, 0 assists and 3 fouls in his 14 minutes of action.
And Barlow wasn't the only one to struggle at the free throw line. Purdue shot an uncharacteristic 58.8% from the line and left at least 7 points on the floor. So even while getting whipped on the glass (47-32) and not coming up with hustle plays, they still could have won had they hit their free throws.
Purdue got exactly what it deserved in Iowa City: A loss. But now, the fallout and ramifications of this loss will probably be pretty severe. Judging by what we've seen the past few years, people will more than likely remember this game, not the 7 wins in a row that led up to it. This upset was the front story on EsPN.com, and rightfully so...and it'll probably be at the forefront of the tourney committee's minds a week from today unless Purdue does something to erase the memory.
On Twitter people were asking if this loss is an important, and possibly-positive moment, for this team. We don't know that, and really, we can't say what it is in the long view for weeks. After the game JJ reiterated this point by saying,
"A lot of people will say it's a bad loss, but it's a matter of how we respond to it to see if we can turn it into a good loss."
But, right now, it stinks. Painter often says that teams don't play "on edge" enough as their winning...and that definitely was the case today. Everyone from the coaches to the players did not take the Hawkeyes seriously and because of that, Purdue's standing the college basketball world is now much different than it was this morning. Hopefully they regain the chip on their collective shoulder that made them great in the month of February.