WEST LAFAYETTE – Jaden Ivey scored 19 points and Trevion Williams chipped in 13 points and a season-high 18 rebounds to lead No. 2 Purdue to a 77-70 victory over Iowa tonight at Mackey Arena.
The win very likely means the Boilermakers will be No. 1 in the AP Poll on Monday for the first time in program history. Iowa was without forward Keegan Murray, the nation's second-leading scorer, who came in averaging 24.6 points but missed the game with an ankle injury.
- Don't let Jaden Ivey get going: Ivey was already an outstanding scorer and athletic freak as a freshman last season, but he has raised his game in his sophomore campaign, blossoming into one of the nation's most dangerous players in the open court. When Purdue needed offense in the second half, the South Bend native provided it with a series of increasingly explosive forays to the rim: a drive from the perimeter for a finger roll, a baseline drive for a one-handed dunk, another drive that led to free throws and a steal/dunk sequence that drew the loudest roar of the night from the crowd and an enormous bellow and fist pump from Ivey. He's a highlight waiting to happen in transition and when he gets a head of steam, very few are going to keep him from getting to the rim. He's a special type of run-stopper/energy-provider for the Boilers.
- Trevion Williams can still take over: Williams has taken something of a taken something of a backseat this season, playing important minutes in relief of Zach Edey, but not dominating in the way he often did last season because Purdue has not needed him to do so. His acceptance of a lesser role without complaint has been key to Purdue's early success, but tonight the Boilers needed him to be the Williams of last season again and he responded with gusto. Despite facing double teams on a significant number of his post touches, he was able to find the open man most of the time and help Purdue out of trouble. He was also a load on the glass, out-working Iowa for a number of important rebounds. In one key stretch in the second half after Iowa had sliced a 17-point lead to eight, he passed out of a double team to Eric Hunter Jr. for a key 3-pointer and followed with a 3 of his own, his second of the season from the top of the key. He notched his third double-double of the season and Purdue needed every bit of it.
- Purdue might have a ball-handling problem: It's possible Iowa just provided everyone a look at how the Boilermakers' until-now-invincible offense might be contained. Iowa utilized a full-court, trapping defense that made life miserable for Purdue point guards Isaiah Thompson and Eric Hunter Jr. The latter turned the ball over four times and committed a 10-second violation when he couldn't get the ball over the halfcourt line during an 11-0 Iowa run that sliced a 13-point deficit down to two with less than three minutes remaining. Purdue's one offensive weakness is a relative lack of elite ball-handling – Thompson and Hunter Jr. aren't bad, but they certainly struggled to handle Iowa's pressure, as did shooting guard Ivey, who pitched in at times. Sophomore Ethan Morton might need to get more playing time in such situations in the future.
Player of the Game: Trevion Williams
This was a dirty-work game from Williams, who found the going very difficult in the post – he shot only 4 for 12 from the field – but found a way to make a huge impact on the game with some of the night's toughest rebounds. After Iowa cut the Purdue lead to two late in the second half, Williams grabbed back-to-back defensive rebounds in traffic to make sure the Hawkeyes got no closer. He added three assists and a steal to his totals. He finished with his highest rebounding total since he had 20 against Michigan on Jan. 9, 2020.
Purdue will be back in action Thursday when it travels to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers (4-4, 0-1 Big Ten) at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. It will be Purdue's first true road game of the season. The Scarlet Knights had non-conference losses to Lafayette, Massachusetts and DePaul and then dropped their Big Ten opener to Illinois, 86-51.