The Purdue Boilermakers will travel to Iowa to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in what will feature two of the most efficient offenses in the country. This road game marks the second for the teams after the Boilers ran away from the Hawkeyes in early December 87-68 at Mackey Arena. That was the start of a three game slide for the Hawkeyes as they also dropped games to Iowa State and Michigan and have gone 6-4 overall since that Purdue game.
Let’s jump right into ‘The Three Pointer!’
1 | Stay Connected on the Defensive End
In the first half and for the last ten minutes of the Indiana game, Purdue was about as connected as they had been all season on the defensive end. They stifled IU on the interior where the Hoosier’s strength lies and controlled the tempo of the game. When they were not, IU went on their big run to star the second half and pull the game to within 9 points. The Boilers stayed calm and weathered that early storm to then pounce on the Hoosier when that push stalled and ended up winning by 21 points.
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffrey runs one of the smoothest offenses in the country every single season. The issue has typically been trying to keep up against a team that has just as good of an offense but provides a defense that can stop people. This is where Iowa has gotten themselves into trouble. When they can run and hide from a team, that is when they are at their best but when they need to slug it out they have tended to struggle. Teams like Purdue can rely on their defense to carry them for long stretches when the offense goes away from them and Purdue also has the most dominant force on the interior to dump passes to. Iowa’s issue is simply they don’t have the overall shooters to compete with teams like Purdue on a night to night basis.
Could Iowa win this game? Of course they can because winning on the road is hard. If Purdue simply follows the defensive game plan, play connected, and plays with a high level of intensity, Iowa just doesn’t have enough on both ends to stick with the Boilers.
2 | Maintain Your Poise When Iowa Goes On Their Run
Iowa is going to go on a run and that run is probably going to be 10-0 at some point. Iowa always does because they are just too damn good offensively, no matter who they have. How will the Boilers respond to that run will define if they come out with a win or not. Against the Hoosiers, the Boilers responded as well as I have ever see from a Purdue team in as hostile of an environment as you could have. When it started to get a bit uneasy, it was Ethan Morton who came in and provided stellar defensive work and composure to bring the Boilers back around. That’s who Ethan Morton is to this team and that is where his value is going to be helpful for the rest of the season. He isn’t going to go get you 10 points and he probably won’t grab a ton of rebounds, but he can come in and provide leadership, poise, and composure when they need it the most.
3 | Dominate on the Interior With Size and Skill
Edey’s size and TKR’s skill is a combination Iowa will just not be able to matchup with. In the first game Edey put on an absolutely dominating performance doing whatever he wanted on offense. He finished that one 9-10 from the floor and was 7-9 at the line. Unless Iowa has someone found an entirely new player to guard Edey I’m not sure how they slow down the reigning National Player of the Year.
Gillis’ shooting from behind the arc brings a different versatility to the offense when he is on the floor at the PF position. While Gillis’ minutes have gone down this year his impact on the game certainly has not. Gillis continued ability to do the little things, get in there for rebounds, cause mayhem on defense, and get the easy put back baskets has led to him seeing a ton of minutes in important situation. He’s strong enough to guard a number of positions and can also head to the perimeter on the offensive end where he’s currently shooting an impressive 50% from deep.
Furst has shown improvement over the last several games of playing his his strengths in running up and down the floor, being active on the offensive and defense glass, and being a really good post defender when Edey is off the floor. If Furst can find the form he had last year it will be another wrinkle to this Purdue team and will allow Matt Painter to play the hot hand game in and game out.
And 1 | Fletcher Loyer and Mason Gillis...En Fuego
Loyer is 16 for 28 from behind the arc in conference games this year for 57.1%. I know that the fan perception of him is that he’s not the sharpshooter we all want him to be, but he’s quietly increased his shooting percentage and has added the ability to drive to the hoop and find his own shot on occasion that makes him a more deadly player on the offensive end.
Gillis is 11 for 23 for 47.8% during conference only games. It’s no surprise that Gillis has been able to hit his shots at such a high clip. You’ll recall that during his sophomore year he shot 41% from three on the season. His percentage dipped to 35% last year but as noted above it’s risen to 50% overall this season. Gillis’ production has increased as his minutes have decreased.
When you combine Loyer and Gillis you’ve got a shooting combination that is difficult to slow down. Teams might be able to stop one of them but surely not both. And, if somehow both of them are shut down don’t forget that there’s still Lance Jones and Camden Heide waiting to take some wide open looks.
This is a game where Purdue should be able to grab another important road victory in the B1G. Iowa is a good team but is likely a fringe NCAA Tournament team and this is a game Purdue simply needs to have if it wants to win the B1G and grab a 1 seed. It simply can’t afford to drop this road game with games at Wisconsin, at Rutgers, and at Illinois still to come. In the end, Purdue’s got the best player in the country and two of the best three point shooters in the conference.