Thursday, February 17, 2005
Purdue 66, Iowa 63
Another road game, another tough loss. Anyone who read Randy Peterson's article will notice a similar opening, but as I watched Iowa squander another second half lead on the road, it was the only thing going through my mind. Iowa had a seven point lead as late as the seven minute mark, only to have that first conference road win evade them again.
Loyal Hawkeye followers have picked up on the pattern by now - play well enough to be in a position to win, then falter down the stretch. The end result - Iowa's current 0-5 road record. With the exception of the ugly game at Ohio State, each of Iowa's road games closely follow this model.
Illinois, 73-68 OT
Iowa was the clear underdog against the nation's best team, but they capitalized on Illinois's poor shooting and missed free throws at the end of regulation to force overtime, making Iowa the team to come closest to beating the Illini all season. Unfortunately all games must be recorded as a W or an L, and Iowa couldn't sustain its run long enough to earn the former.
Northwestern, 75-74 OT
Iowa actually played fairly well for the first 37 minutes of this game, but those memories are easily forgotten when a 12 point lead evaporates over the last 3 minutes of regulation. The Hawks rebounded to pull ahead by 5 in overtime, but even then they weren't safe from their own ineptitude. Three missed free throws, one unbelievable turnover and one buzzer-beating three later, Iowa suffered their third straight loss to the Wildcats. This was clearly the game where most Iowa fans gave up hope of a respectable conference finish, as the team fell to 2-4 with Michigan State and Wisconsin soon to come.
No one goes to the Kohl Center expecting an easy game, but Iowa managed to look strong at several points in this game, leading by as many as 9 in the first half and 12 in the second in their second game without Pierre Pierce. A 17-2 second half run by the Badgers gave them a lead they would hang on to the rest of the game. Like the Illinois game, this one wasn't painful because Iowa "should have" won, but because it proved what the Hawkeyes were capable of, which in turn makes losses to Michigan, Northwestern, and Purdue hard to stomach.
Carl Landry dominated most of this game, scoring 29 points on 11-15 shooting, but it was his absence in the second half that most people find notable. Purdue managed to go on a run after Landry sat down with his fourth foul, which contrasted the first game these two teams played. In that one, Landry was effective when in the game, but his minutes were limited by early foul trouble, and Iowa was able to run up the score when he was out. David Teague made a back-breaking three pointer inside of two minutes to put Purdue up by four, and the Boilermakers made six straight free throws after that to seal it up.
- Greg Brunner has been nothing short of solid on offense for Iowa since Pierre Pierce was dismissed from the team. In four games he has averaged 19.5 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 54% from the field, including 5 of 10 on his threes, which makes for an excellent 58 adjFG%. Last night was another good game, in which he contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds. It wasn't all rosy though, as he missed 4 of his 9 free throws and gave up plenty of Landry's points.
- Adam Haluska has also been strong in Pierce's absence. He's scoring 18 per game while sporting a 54 adjFG% over the past four games. Wednesday he grabbed 5 rebounds to go with a couple threes, but he did have 4 of Iowa's 14 turnovers.
- Jeff Horner had another poor game, shooting 4-16 and adding 5 turnovers. He's definitely struggling with the added pressure to score. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's a little tired of seeing him clang 25-foot three pointers with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. It would be nice to see him pass up a few shots in order to get the ball to Brunner and Haluska a little more often.
- Freshman Alex Thompson got his second straight start. He's managed to grab 8 rebounds in 42 minutes in the past two games, which is at least better than you'd expect from previous starter Erek Hansen. Not coincidentally, Iowa has done a great job keeping opponents off the offensive glass when Hansen has played fewer minutes. Purdue was one of the Big Ten's best offensive rebounding teams, but with Hansen playing just 14 minutes, and Thompson, Doug Thomas, and Seth Gorney combining for 28, Iowa held them to 8 offensive boards, compared to the Hawks's 26 defensive rebounds, or a meager 24% offensive rebound rate. Basically, I like to see Thomas play, but I'm fine with Thompson in there because it means Hansen isn't on the court.
- Mike Henderson finally had a respectable looking line, hitting 5 of 9 shots for 11 points. However, with 0 assists, 0-1 FT and 3 turnovers, it was a pretty empty performance. His stat line translates to a .409 floor% and an offensive rating of 90, both well below the Big Ten averages.