IOWA CITY, Iowa – Robbie Hummel scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his return to Big Ten play and Purdue opened the conference season with a 79-76 win at Iowa Wednesday night.
D.J. Byrd added a season-high 14 off the bench for the Boilermakers (11-3), who won despite getting 18 fewer free-throw attempts than the Hawkeyes.
Lewis Jackson buried a layup and hit a scoop shot under the hoop to make it 75-69 Boilermakers with 1:40 left. Iowa’s Matt Gatens answered with a three, but Hummel hit a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds left to seal the win.
Devyn Marble scored 17 points and had six assists to lead the Hawkeyes (8-6), who lost their fifth straight Big Ten opener.
Though the Boilermakers rarely trailed, they never really put away Iowa either.
All those free throws from the Hawkeyes didn’t help matters, as Iowa hit 21 of 29 from there as opposed to just 7 of 11 for the visiting Boilermakers.
But after pushing its lead to 48-39 on Barlow’s three-point play to open the second half, Purdue seemed just a bucket or two from seizing control. Iowa chipped away though, and Eric May, who began to assert himself despite foul trouble, buried a 3 to tie the game at 52 with 14:40 left.
The Hawkeyes scored just eight points in the next eight minutes – which was sloppy for both sides – and D.J. Byrd’s short jumper put Purdue back on top 65-60 with 6:23 left.
Byrd then cut through the lane for a nifty jump-stop layup that set a season high for points and, more importantly, gave the Boilermakers a 69-65 edge with just under four minutes left.
Barlow had 12 points for Purdue, including 10 in the second half.
Each team shot 54 percent from the floor in the opening half. But the Boilermakers owned the boards, 18-11, and hit six threes to just one from Iowa en route to a 45-39 lead.
The Boilermakers got 30 points from their bench in the first 20 minutes, led by a pair of threes each from Byrd and John Hart.
Purdue closed out Big Ten regular-season play in Iowa City last season, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Playing for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Boilermakers were stunned by the Hawkeyes 67-65. Purdue went on to lose to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament and to eventual Final Four team VCU in the third round of the NCAAs.
The Boilermakers didn’t have the injured Hummel for their last game against the Hawkeyes, though.
Though Iowa entered play on a three-game winning streak, the Hawkeyes had yet to notch what might be considered a quality win come March.
At times, Iowa looked as good as it has all year. But it still wasn’t enough – and next up for the Hawkeyes is a two-game swing through Wisconsin, ranked No. 11, and Minnesota followed by a home game against league favorites No. 2 Ohio State.
Melsahn Basabe had 14 points and eight boards and Gatens added 11 points on 3 of 9 shooting.