Despite taking its second loss of the season last week, Purdue retained the nation’s No. 1 ranking in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Boilermakers will try to stay on top and get back on track when they return home to face Iowa on Thursday in West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue (22-2, 11-2 Big Ten) had a nine-game winning streak snapped by state rival Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday, when the Boilermakers’ only lead came in the first minute.
National player of the year candidate Zach Edey led Purdue with 33 points and 18 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Boilermakers fell in Bloomington for the second season in a row.
“I think in the first half, the environment kind of shocked some of us,” Edey said. “I think we played harder in the second half and made the right reads in the second half.”
Purdue turned the ball over 16 times, including 11 giveaways in the first half, which allowed the Hoosiers to take a 15-point lead into the break. Typically, the Boilermakers have been the ones creating turnovers with their aggressive defense, but Purdue did not pick up such defensive intensity until the second half.
Ultimately it was not enough to keep Indiana from pulling away in the final minute.
“Definitely, turnovers suck,” said Purdue’s Braden Smith, who had one of the most costly giveaways with under a minute left and the Boilermakers trailing 73-70. “Obviously, it just leads to their offense. I think, at the end of the day, that one turnover cost us. I feel like we had it there with a chance to win it.”
The Hawkeyes (15-8, 7-5) head into the Thursday matchup having won three in a row and seven of their past nine. Their most recent victory was a 81-79 decision against visiting Illinois on Saturday.
Tony Perkins put up 25 of his career-best 32 points in the second half to help close out the win for Iowa. Overall, Perkins hit 15 of 16 free throws and shot 8-for-11 from the field.
“This was a rivalry game,” Perkins said. “I love those.”
Perkins, an Indianapolis native, put Iowa ahead for good with 6:25 left in the second half when he sank two foul shots. He scored 17 of Iowa’s final 28 points. Iowa’s leading scorer and rebounder, Kris Murray (20.5 points and 8.5 boards per game), also had a solid outing with 19 points and seven rebounds while Filip Rebraca added 13 points.
But Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said following the game he was impressed with the way his players found the hot hand and continued to get Perkins the ball. It’s the balance that Iowa knows it will need in order to pull an upset at Purdue.
“It was, ‘OK this guy’s cooking, just keep going,’ ” McCaffery said. “What was impressive to me about that was the players who were on the floor with him, they’re yelling out plays to me that we should be running for (Perkins). So they recognized that, ‘OK, this guy’s on fire. We’re going to him.’ ” –Field Level Media