The Purdue Boilermakers will look to rebound off of their first loss of the season against the Iowa Hawkeyes inside Mackey Arena in the second game of the B1G season. Following a disappointing showing against the Northwestern Wildcats that saw the Boilers woes from seasons past come back, the Boilers will look to get back to even in the conference standings. A win gets Purdue back on track with big games against Alabama and Arizona coming up before the B1G season really gets underway. A loss under similar circumstance, however, may leave many in the fanbase wondering if there are issues Purdue can’t overcome.
Iowa comes in to Mackey Arena with a record of 5-2 and once again boasting one of the better offenses in the country (rated 15th in Kenpom) but also a defense that seems to struggle in consistently stopping opposing teams (rated 111th in Kenpom) giving up an average of 75.7 points per game. The Hawkeyes have five players who all average in double figures and come in shooting 35.6% from behind the arc as a team, led by Patrick McCaffrey’s 36.8% (yes, they have a guy shooting 50% but it’s on 2 attempts).
Let’s get into ‘The Three Pointer!’
1 | Take Care of the Basketball
The turnover bug reared it’s ugly head again and this time the Boilers couldn’t help but get bit. The Boilers are one of the worst teams in the country in turnover margin with a -3.1 (t-318th) and average 13.1 turnovers per game (t-225th). Only Minnesota and Illinois have had more trouble turning the ball over this season but are better at generating steals and turnovers on defense. Purdue simply cannot continue to have bad turnovers that lead to easy points that throws off the pace and style of game that Purdue needs to win games.
Northwestern was able to take the 17 turnovers that Purdue had and turn them into 20 points. That is the game right there considering Purdue out-rebounded the Wildcats 52-27, had a 16-3 second chance points, and made 11 more free throws. Those numbers alone typically signify that Purdue would have won by 10+ but it simply can’t continue to average 13 turnovers per game and be successful.
Purdue has too much talent and experience in the back court with Smith, Loyer, Jones, Morton, and Colvin to be turning the ball over 17 times in a game or even 13 times on average. That number has got to be no more than 13 times per game and needs to average less than 10.
2 | Control the Tempo and Pace
Iowa wants to speed the game up and their offensive philosophy is one where they want to maximize the number of possessions on the offensive end. That is because Iowa feels like their offense, over the course of a game that maximizes the number of possessions, will favor their ability to score. That holds a great deal of weight against most teams but has seen them struggle against Purdue who has typically been very good on both ends of the floor.
Iowa has the 6th rated average offensive possession length at just 14.6 seconds in the country along with an adjusted tempo rating of 74.8 which is good for 9th overall. Iowa wants to go quickly and make you uncomfortable by pushing the pace as much as possible and they have done that at times against Purdue, especially when they have gone to full court pressure. A number of years ago we witnessed a very talented Purdue team meltdown in the second half after leading by as many as 18 (it was 19 in the first half) because they gave up 50 points in the second half to an Iowa team who controlled the tempo and pace.
Purdue has experienced guards and wings and the ability to control the tempo and pace. They showed the ability to do so against elite levels of talent last year and this year and it’s time they started showing it consistently from game to game, even against inferior talent, from tip off to the final buzzer.
3 | Dominate Second Chance Points
Iowa isn’t going to be able to hang with Purdue on the glass but how much can Purdue leverage those advantages will tell a major story in this game and most games the rest of the season. The dominated Northwestern on the offensive glass by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds and turning those into 16 points. That’s a great percentage and would mean Purdue is leveraging their advantages as much as possible.
The issue against the Wildcats is that Purdue just stopped trying to shoot from behind the arc as soon as they believed they were struggling. When you have a 7’4 rebound and put-back machine like Edey, sometimes you need to continue shooting and putting the ball on the rim to either get yourself into a streak or allow Edey to feast. The point I am trying to make here is that Purdue can’t just dump it inside and stand around and wait for Edey to throw the ball back out to them. It makes them stagnant on offense and has shown all too often that they can’t get themselves out of the shooting funk it puts the entire team in.
Northwestern was struggling from the outside but continued to run really good offense that featured moving and cutting. Eventually, they were able to work themselves through the block they were having shooting wise and ended up hitting their last five 3pt shots of the game (3 in the 2nd half and 2 in overtime). Purdue needs to continue running good offense and putting good shots onto the rim to give themselves chances to score on second chance points and to shoot themselves into rhythm.
Purdue needs to grab 14 second chance points and limit Iowa to less than 10.
And 1 | Keep Iowa Off the Free Throw Line
Usually this is a given for Purdue but they gave up a ton of free throws to Northwestern that Matt Painter admitted was Purdue’s own fault. Many of those fouls were just silly ones that Purdue has tended to avoid throughout the last three to four years and when you continue to draw fouls like Purdue does while also not fouling yourself, you put a ton of pressure on the other team. Purdue needs to get back to that again with Iowa’s high team percentage of foul shooting which is at 77% (39th nationally). This also goes into the concept of controlling the pace and tempo of the game, where Iowa wants to get itself to the foul line because it helps the efficiency they place a premium on for their offense.
Limit Iowa to less than 12 foul shots and Purdue has a huge advantage.
Players to Watch:
#23 Ben Krikke | Forward | Senior | 6’9 230lbs | 18.7pts, 4.6reb, 1.7ast, 1.3stl, 1-2 3pt
Krikke is likely to draw first assignment against defending Edey on the inside but as will be the case with most opponents, he won’t be alone. Krikke isn’t a major threat to shoot threes to pull Edey out of the paint in a pick and pop situation, but he is athletic enough to really roll to the rim hard and put the Boilers in tough situations. The senior forward who transferred intio Iowa from Valporaise hasn’t missed a beat with the increase in competition.
#20 Payton Sandfort | Guard | Junior | 6’7 215lbs | 14.3pts, 8.4reb, 2.4ast, 15-46 (32.6%) 3pt
Sandfort is typically a matchup nightmare for opponents when he can use his length to bully smaller guards and wings. Purdue will be at a bit of a mismatch as it’ll likely ask Fletcher Loyer to defend Sandfort to start the game. Sandfort has taken the most threes of any Iowa player so far this year with the next closest only taking 19.
#22 Patrick McCaffrey | Forward | Senior | 6’9 200lbs | 12pts, 4reb, 1.6ast, 7-19 (36.8%) 3pt
McCaffrey is another one of those long players for the Hawkeyes that his father, as head coach, loves to put on the floor who are skilled and can really be efficient on the offensive end. He will be defended by Purdue’s power forwards and presents unique challenges for the Boilers if they slide him to the ‘5’ on the offensive end.
Purdue has not lost a return game to Mackey following a road loss in 19 straight games. Purdue is favored in nearly every metric other than turnovers per game and that has been their weakness the last several years. That should be an issue that is early to clean up but Braden Smith simply can’t continue to have games of 6 turnovers if Purdue is going to get where they want to do.
A point of emphasis needs to be the improvement of cutting down turnovers and that should start against an Iowa team who doesn’t generate a whole lot of their own on defense (just 13.9 per game). Purdue should also hold a distinct advantage in rebounding and drawing fouls to put the Hawkeyes into foul trouble. If Purdue limits their turnovers to 13, holds a distinct rebounding advantage, hits their free throws, and controls the tempo and pace of the game, they win convincingly. Purdue is also 8-3 in the last 11 games. Boilers roll in their return to Mackey Arena.