Jan. 24, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The ninth-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team blitzed No. 22 Purdue at the start of the second half inside a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena to move to 7-0 in the Big Ten Conference for the first time in 46 years.
The Hawkeyes shot 60 percent from the field, making 15-of-25 field goals, in a 50-point second half to post an 83-71 victory over the Boilkermakers on Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court. Iowa has swept Michigan State and Purdue this season.
Iowa is 16-3 overall — its best start since 1987 — and has won 13 straight Big Ten games dating back to last season and 13 consecutive home contests.
After trailing 35-33 — just its second half-time deficit in Big Ten play this season — the Hawkeyes upped their defensive intensity to jump Purdue and never look back. Iowa used a 23-6 run over the first 6 1/2 minutes with everybody contributing.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this team,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “To see Nicholas Baer, Brady (Ellingson), and Dom Uhl do what they’re doing, and we got great play from Ahmad (Wagner).”
Senior Anthony Clemmons started the half with a steal and fast-break layup to tie the game at 35 before back-to-back 3-pointers from Mike Gesell and Jarrod Uthoff pushed Iowa’s lead to 41-35. Woodbury followed with consecutive layups — on two Uthoff assists — and a one-handed Uthoff flush made the score 47-39.
Enter the Hawkeye reserves.
Brady Ellingson’s 3-pointer made it a 50-41 Iowa lead at the 14:56 mark, Baer drained a 3-pointer on the next possession to stretch the advantage to 53-41, and Uhl connected 29 seconds later, pushing the lead to 56-41 to force a Boilermaker timeout.
“A lot of teams have good teams that don’t want to get to their bench, but these guys don’t have much of a drop off,” said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. “Against teams like us they tend to improve. We have a tough time with Uhl and a tough time with Baer, he’s solid.”
Iowa’s lead swelled to 66-47 on a Uthoff jumper with 7:37 remaining before a free throw shooting contest emerged. The Hawkeyes shot 21 free throws over the final 6:25 — making 15 — in a 12-point victory.
Uthoff led all scorers with 22 points on a 7-of-13 effort from the field, including four 3-pointers and three assists in 34 minutes. Woodbury posted his second straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Peter Jok scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and Clemmons scored 10 points and had six assists.
“No matter who guards Uthoff, I thought he had the upper hand,” said Painter. “He’s a tough cover and puts them at another level. Jok’s improvement has put them at another level, too, and they have experience in older guys.”
Ellingson and Uhl combined for 16 points — eight points apiece — making 6-of-12 attempts.
The Hawkeyes shot 50 percent from the field for the game and a season-best 55 percent from 3-point range, connecting on 11-of-20 3-point attempts. It is the eighth game this season the team has made 11 or more 3-pointers. Iowa assisted on 17 of 27 field goals.
Defensively, Iowa locked in on Purdue in the second half, limiting the Boilermakers to 38.9 percent shooting and a 3-of-12 effort from 3-point range. Purdue, which shot 46.4 percent and made six 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes to take a 35-33 lead into the locker room, shot 42.2 percent overall and 39.1 percent from 3-point range for the game.
“We upped our pressure and were getting in guys’ space,” said Gesell. “We weren’t following our game plan as much as we like in the first half, but in the second half we picked it up. That is what enabled us to get the lead.”
Purdue won the rebounding battle, 41-33, but committed 17 turnovers, which turned into 24 Hawkeye points. Guard Vince Edward paced the Boilermakers with 19 points and eight rebounds. Iowa limited Purdue’s bigs — A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan — to 16 points and 16 rebounds.
“It wasn’t on me, Dom, or Ahmad, it is a collective effort,” said Woodbury of Iowa’s post defense. “Everybody did their part, weak-side help, dig in some, and rebounding.”
Iowa returns to action Thursday, heading to College Park for a top 10 battle at Maryland.
“We’re going to enjoy this today and tomorrow we’ll go to work,” said McCaffery. “We’ve got our hands full in Maryland. They’re having a great year, and it’s a terrific venue to play in.”