IOWA CITY, Iowa — Purdue head coach Matt Painter knew it. Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter was in agreement with his counterpart. Paraphrasing their thoughts, the team that runs last, runs best.
Purdue held an edge over the final 10 minutes to come-from-behind and defeat Iowa 67-62 in a Big Ten Conference men’s basketball clash Wednesday evening inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Boilermakers improved to 12-5 overall, 3-1 in the league by outscoring Iowa 26-4 in bench points and sinking six more three-point field goals than the Hawkeyes (8-10, 1-4).
“It was very satisfying to see our guys make free throws down the stretch and get some stops,” Painter said. “Our three’s were there during the game, too, and I thought they were good shots.”
Iowa used a 12-0 run during a 5-minute, 17-second span to erase a 40-33 deficit and turn it into a 45-40 lead. The Hawkeyes shared the ball during the streak, receiving field goals from Seth Gorney (off an assist from Tony Freeman), Freeman and Jeff Peterson. With the score tied 40-40, Freeman forced a Boilermaker timeout after swishing a deep three-point field goal that gave Iowa a three-point lead (43-30).
The Hawkeyes shifted into overdrive and started running the court. On a fast break with just under 12 minutes to play, Peterson put a coast-to-coast layup too hard off the glass, Freeman’s tip dribbled out and Justin Johnson secured the offensive rebound and was fouled while shooting. He made both free throws and Iowa led 45-40 with 11:43 remaining.
Purdue’s Keaton Grant, who finished with a game-high 22 points, made back-to-back three-point field goals, allowing the Boilermakers to take the lead for good at 48-45. Thirteen seconds after Grant’s second three-pointer, Lickliter was assessed a technical foul for leaving the coach’s box.
“I felt that I didn’t help the guys (by getting a technical),” Lickliter said. “I never like to give the other team points. It was like a turnover on my part.”
Grant and Robbie Hummel — two of Purdue’s top free throw shooters — happened to be the only two Boilermakers to toe the line and they were a perfect 12 of 12 for the game.
“Tate, Gorney and Jake Kelly were great for them,” Painter said. “Those three guys played well. If those guys play like that, they’re going to win some ball games.”
Iowa trailed 32-31 at halftime and the Hawkeyes were led by Tate’s nine points. Freeman and Kelly both had eight and Kurt Looby blocked four shots. Iowa shot 50 percent from the field (10 of 20) and owned a five-point edge (9-4) following a three-pointer by Freeman with 13:41 left before the break.
Iowa made 10 of 26 field goals in the second half (38.5 percent) and finished the game with 20 field goals in 46 attempts (43.5). The Hawkeyes also saw improvement from the free throw line, making 17 of 22 (77.3 percent). Kelly was 5 for 5, Johnson was 2 for 2 and Freeman was 6 for 7.
“Against Purdue, you have to defend with greater purpose,” Lickliter said. “We need to do a better job of knowing who we’re guarding.”
The biggest key in the game, according to Lickliter, was Purdue scoring 17 points off 14 turnovers. Still, there are plenty of positives associated with the Iowa program.
“I see improvement every day,” Lickliter said. “I sure wish we could be more consistent, though. We just have too many empty possessions.”
Gorney made 5 of 6 field goals and shared game-high rebounding honors with Johnson (eight). Looby pulled down six rebounds to go with his five blocked shots, assist and steal.
After playing at home for two consecutive games, the Hawkeyes are now faced with back-to-back road games — Saturday, Jan. 19, at Michigan and Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Indiana. Michigan is 5-11 overall, 1-3 in the conference. No. 9/10 Indiana is 14-1, 3-0. The Hoosiers defeated Iowa 79-76 on Jan. 2 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.