Iowa men’s basketball looking for redemption against No. 6 Purdue

After a close game earlier in the 2021-22 season, the Hawkeyes will host the Boilermakers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Keegan Murray attempts a 3-pointer during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa men’s basketball has a shot at redemption against No. 6 Purdue on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes and Boilermakers met at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana, earlier in the 2021-22 season. Iowa got within a possession of then-No. 2 Purdue on Dec. 3, but ultimately fell, 77-70.

Sophomore forward Keegan Murray, the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer with 22.8 points per game, sat out the Hawkeye matchup on Dec. 3 because of an ankle injury. But Murray managed to learn from the sidelines to prepare for his first game of the season against the Boilermakers.

“Watching the game from a different point of view helps me a lot,” Murray said Tuesday. “Just seeing the ins and outs of what we were iffy on and what we can improve on.”

Iowa is at full strength for its second matchup against Purdue, and the Hawkeyes are hoping for a good crowd for the late-night Thursday matchup.

As of Tuesday, about 3,500 tickets remained out of the arena’s 15,500-seat capacity.

“We know that we can compete with them, so for us to get a good crowd on Thursday night would be big for us and drive us even more,” Murray said.

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Iowa has won three of its last four Big Ten games, registering victories over Indiana, Minnesota, and Penn State. Head coach Fran McCaffery has the Hawkeyes playing a more intense defense in their past two games, surrendering just 99 points in their past two contests against Rutgers and Penn State.

McCaffery credited the defensive improvements to his players, rather than any change in scheme.

“We press a fair amount compared to a lot of teams,” McCaffery said Tuesday about Iowa’s defense. “Our activity level is good. We try to encourage our guys to anticipate rather than react. I think they’ve done a good job of that. Our post guys are active defensively. We don’t really have a true center, so those guys are defending. We can switch a little bit more. We can be up on ball screens a little bit more, things like that.”

The Boilermakers will be another test for the Hawkeyes’ resurgent defense. Purdue currently boasts the No. 1 offense in the Big Ten and the No. 4 offense in the nation, averaging 84.7 points per game.

Zach Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center, has become one of Purdue’s top scoring options — averaging 15.3 points per game. Iowa’s tallest starters, forwards Filip Rebraca and Patrick McCaffery, both stand at 6-foot-9.

“The first game, I thought I did well against Zach Edey except for some of the fouls,” Rebraca said. “It is going to take a lot out of me, and it will not only be a physical battle, but a battle of IQ.”

Iowa could take home its first Quad 1 victory of the 2021-22 season with a win against Purdue on Thursday — boosting the Hawkeyes’ NCAA Tournament resume.

The Hawkeyes also have the chance to be level with the Boilermakers in Big Ten play. Purdue is 16-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, while Iowa has a 4-4 record in the conference. A Hawkeye victory could make the teams equal at 5-4 in the Big Ten standings halfway through the league season.

Iowa will tip off against Purdue at 8 p.m. The game will also be aired on Fox Sports 1.

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