Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Hawkeyes upset Purdue

INDIANAPOLIS ?– Back at Big Ten Media Day Oct. 28, both the coaches and media picked Iowa to finish second in the Big Ten. After all, the Hawkeyes had two of the premier players in the Big Ten in senior guard Luke Recker and senior forward Reggie Evans back for a final season. In fact, both had been selected to the preseason all-Big Ten team and were expected to lead the Hawkeyes back to national prominence.

But after a most topsy-turvy season within the conference, Iowa had stumbled to a ninth-place finish in the league with a disappointing 5-11 Big Ten record. Like their team, Evans’s and Recker’s seasons certainly didn’t go as planned. Neither had the season that was expected of him, and the entire Iowa team never seemed to click.

But Thursday, Recker, Evans and the rest of the Hawkeyes looked like the team everyone thought they would be in an 87-72 win over the No. 8 seed Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse.

“Obviously, we’ve struggled in league play this year, and I think in the last couple of weeks, very similar to last year, I’ve seen this team come around and we’ve been playing better,” said Iowa coach Steve Alford. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in this season from a coaching standpoint, and I think our players — in particular our seniors — have learned a lot.”

Recker had one of his better games of the season with 25 points to lead the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter was nearly flawless, hitting 9 of 10 from the field, including a perfect 5 of 5 from the floor in the second half. He added six rebounds and four assists in his 37 minutes of action.

“We knew that Purdue was going to play tough man-to-man defense, especially on me,” Recker said. “A lot of teams like to play on top of me and deny me the ball, and the back-cut was open today. It was basically a read throughout the game and I know Reggie made a great pass, Jared (Reiner) made a great pass and I shot the ball pretty well today, but the majority of those were back-cut lay-ups from good passes from my teammates. You have to take what the defense gives you. I did that today. I probably didn’t do it as much throughout the year as I’d like, but I did that today and hopefully that can carry over.”

Evans was a force on the inside, scoring 19 points and grabbing a game-high 18 rebounds. His 18 rebounds tied a Big Ten tournament record. He also had a game-high three steals in 37 minutes.

Iowa (17-14) controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Boilermakers, 41-28. The Hawkeyes also held a considerable advantage shooting 57.4 percent (31-of-54) from the field while holding Purdue (13-18) to 24-of-59 shooting. After hitting their first three treys of the game, Purdue went cold finishing 7-of-28 from three-point range.

Junior guard Willie Deane scored 16 points to lead four Boilermakers in double figures but was limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble. Deane picked up his fourth foul with over 14 minutes left in the game, sending him to the bench.

After falling behind 15-9 in the first half, Iowa went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game. Luke Recker capped off the Hawkeyes run with a pair of free throws following a technical foul on Purdue coach Gene Keady with 12:44 left in the first half.

Purdue was also plagued by 17 first-half fouls sending Iowa to the foul line 24 times. Purdue’s starting center and third-leading scorer, John Allison was whistled for his third of the half with 5:01 left and Deane picked up his third at the 3:39 mark.

The Hawkeyes took advantage going on an 8-0 run to take their largest lead of the half at that point, 41-29, on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Brody Boyd. Recker led the way for Iowa with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field in the first half. Evans nearly had a double-double in the first half alone with nine points and 11 rebounds. The Hawkeyes shot almost 56 percent from the field (15-of-27) while limiting Purdue to just 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) from the floor to take a 46-34 lead at the break.

In the second half, the closest Purdue would come was 50-38 on a basket by Deane with 18:35 remaining. Joining Deane in double figures were Maynard Lewis with 15 points, Rodney Smith with 13, and John Allison with 11.

Iowa will play Friday against top-seeded Wisconsin at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
“It’s one-and-done now,” Recker said. “If you don’t go out there and play, you’re going home. We understand we have a very tough game tomorrow. Obviously, Wisconsin with the No. 1 seed, they’re playing very well. We got a battle on our hands tomorrow, but we’re going to get our rest and play as hard as we can and see what happens.”

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