IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jordan Bohannon is a potent 3-point weapon himself, and even he was bewildered at what had just unfolded.
It started with a sputter, Purdue’s emphatic downtown assault. The Boilermakers missed their first three treys in the opening three minutes as Iowa’s defense locked in early, seemingly ready to brace for Purdue’s high-powered 3-point offense.
Then came the black-and-gold storm.
“They shot the crap out of the ball,” Bohannon said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a game where a team makes 20 threes in any game I’ve ever played in.”
Neither has any Purdue team in 120-plus years of basketball, at least on its end. In rolling past Iowa, 87-64, Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Boilermakers set a single-game program and Big Ten Conference record for made treys, surpassing the 19 they hit earlier this year against Fairfield on Nov. 18.
Following the instant defense, Iowa surrendered 11 made treys over the next 17 minutes as Purdue missed just once more from deep in the first half. Nothing changed out of the break — the Boilermakers canned their first four second-half 3-pointers and finished 9-for-17 from three over the final 20 minutes, despite playing mostly reserves in the second half.
“When you practice with these guys, you see them and know they’re able to shoot the ball,” said Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, who led the way with a game-high 22 points and 6 treys on 9 attempts. “So when you see them making shots like this it’s not surprising because they can all shoot the rock.
“I was actually mentioning that to them — that they can shoot it — so just seeing it all come together and everything is good.”
Edwards had plenty of assistance. Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson knocked down four apiece, while Vincent Edwards and Ryan Cline each drained three. Purdue entered with the most powerful 3-point offense in the Big Ten — shooting 44 percent from deep while averaging 10.5 per game — but the Boilermakers blew by that figure in the first half alone and finished with only six fewer treys than Iowa had field goals.
Some were contested shots that just splashed home, others were repeated wide-open looks that magnified Iowa’s defensive lapses.
“It sucks,” freshman Luka Garza said, “but we gave them too many open, rhythm jumpers. Guys would come down and hit one, and they’d get an open look the next time — the same guy. That’s just things you can’t do, and we can’t let them get those rhythm shots.
“They shot the hell out of it tonight, and they’re a great team. That’s what they’re going to do. They’re one of the best teams in America and a No. 1 seed if the (NCAA) tournament started right now. We tried to limit their inside game a little bit, and they did a great job getting it to their shooters and knocking them down.”
Garza touched on Iowa’s defensive conundrum given what was down low. Senior center Isaac Haas — Purdue’s 7-foot-2 behemoth who entered having delivered double figures in 10 of the Boilermakers’ last 12 games — was again roaming the paint, ready to pounce.
Hone in on the shooters and Haas will go off. Lock in on him, and Purdue can feast from deep. The Hawkeyes leaned on the latter — Haas finished with three points and took one shot — but they paid dearly on the perimeter.
“They’re a tough cover,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “because you’ve got to defend the post, and they’ve got multiple 3-point shooters. Every one of their 3-point shooters can go off the dribble and they’ve got you all spread out. And we didn’t get a lot out of transition because we weren’t getting enough stops.”
The Iowa coach says he thought his team competed hard against Purdue, and explains why it allowed so many 3-pointers Mark Emmert/HawkCentral
That wasn’t more evident than early in the first half, when Purdue surged ahead with an 18-0 run that turned a 6-6 game into a runaway blowout. Twelve of those 18 points arrived from beyond the arc, and Iowa magnified the problem by going cold for nearly 6 ½ minutes en route to a 31-point halftime hole.
The end result?
Bohannon and the Hawkeyes landed on the wrong side of history.
“When a team makes 11 threes in the first half, it’s hard to really be close in a game like that,” Bohannon said. “So you’ve got to give a lot of credit to them. They run a lot of good sets and they got their shooters open. Really utilized their guys down low and used them as decoys, and they got a lot of open shooters that way.”
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.