Iowa men’s basketball team still without Quadrant 1 win after loss to Purdue

The Hawkeyes (14-6 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) fell to 0-5 this season in Quadrant 1 games with their loss to the Boilermakers (13-3, 6-3).


Grace Smith

Iowa forward Keegan Murray goes up for a layup during a basketball game between Iowa and No. 6 Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. The Boilermakers defeated the Hawkeyes, 83-73. Murray shot 4-11 in field goals.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team’s second matchup with Purdue of the 2021-22 season mirrored the first contest between the Big Ten rivals.

Like the Dec. 3 game between the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Iowa trailed by double-digits at halftime on Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa faced a 15-point halftime deficit midway through its rematch with No. 6 Purdue, and that was extended to 18 points only minutes into the second half. Then, another Iowa comeback attempt against Purdue was underway. With 12:22 remaining in the game, the Hawkeyes cut the Boilermaker lead to four points, but never got any closer than that in their 83-73 loss.

Purdue, while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 59.1 percent from the 3-point line, pushed its lead back to 10 with 6:47 remaining. By that time, Iowa fans left half-eaten popcorn buckets and empty beer cans behind on their way to the exits. Iowa outscored Purdue, 40-35, in the second half, just like it outdid the Boilermakers by six points in the first game between the teams. But Iowa’s second comeback attempt against Purdue was its second failed comeback attempt against Purdue.

For the second time this season, Iowa won the second half against Purdue, but not the game.

“We preached at halftime bringing more intensity to a game like this,” Iowa forward Kris Murray, who scored a game-high 23 points, said. “We showed a lot of grit and toughness I thought in that comeback. It was kind of similar to the last time we played them [when Iowa lost, 77-70]. We just needed to complete it this time. We were close.”

But not close enough.

And, just as Iowa’s comeback fell short, so did its opportunity to earn its first Quadrant 1 win of the season. The Hawkeyes (14-6 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) fell to 0-5 this season in Quadrant 1 (as of Thursday’s NET rankings) games with their loss to the Boilermakers (13-3, 6-3). The different quadrants break up different teams based on their NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) — which takes into account winning percentage, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses — which helps determine seeding for the postseason tournament.

Iowa entered Thursday’s game ranked 20th per the NET metrics. Purdue was ranked eighth.

According to the NCAA, Quadrant 1 wins are those home games vs. teams NET ranked 1-30, neutral games vs. 1-50, and away games vs. 1–75. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 in Quadrant 2 games, 3-0 in Quadrant 3, and 7-0 in Quadrant 4, but have yet to win a game against elite competition, per these metrics.

Shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from the 3-point line against Purdue wasn’t going to change that.

“I just think the energy in the first half, for whatever reason, wasn’t there,” forward Keegan Murray, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, said. “In the second half, we picked it up. It was the same occurrence in the first game [between these teams]. Against a good team like that, you have to go out there and compete for a full 40 minutes. We didn’t do that in the first half, and that’s how we got behind.”

Iowa’s next game is at Penn State on Monday. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. on BTN. The Hawkeyes just beat the Nittany Lions at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.

The next time the Hawkeyes will have a chance at a Quadrant 1 win will likely be at No. 16 Ohio State (currently 23rd in the NET) on Feb. 3. That does not count any change in rankings that would elevate a previous Iowa win into a Quadrant 1 win.

“I don’t think we competed in the first half the way you have to compete to beat a team of this caliber,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “That doesn’t mean we didn’t play hard. You have to play hard, you have to be connected, you have to pay attention to the game plan. We were late on stuff, and we tried to do it all on our own offensively. Everyone tries to go one-on-one … So in the second half, our defense was way better — our press and our halfcourt — and our offense was [too]. We’re driving the ball, getting penetration.

“That’s the way we have to play to beat a team like them. If you are late, they’re gonna score. They’re too good. They have too many weapons. Everyone they have is a veteran guy who can score. So it takes a team to be more connected than we were.”