Iowa basketball haunted by slow first half, drops rematch against Purdue by double digits

Iowa men's basketball anticipated their rematch against No. 6 Purdue on Thursday night following their close loss in early December. Unlike their first matchup, Iowa rebounded much better with a -5 margin compared to -12 in the first meeting. They also committed far less fouls and shot nearly perfect from the free throw line at 94% (17-18). 

However, the end result was the same as Purdue bested Iowa by a 83-73 margin for their second straight win. Purdue's recorded improves to 17-3, 6-3 in Big Ten play while Iowa falls to 14-6, 4-5 in conference play. 

Iowa had three players in double figures: Kris Murray with 23 points, Keegan Murray with 14 and Patrick McCaffery with 11 points. But an overall lack of cohesion on both sides of the ball prevented them from securing the elusive, first marquee win of the season. 

Much like the first meeting, Purdue raced out to an early, dominating lead. The Boilermakers converted three of their first four three point attempts and by the midway point in the first half had converted on 6-of-10 three point attempts. On the other end, Iowa only converted 1-of-10 attempts. 

More:Leistikow: 3-point inaccuracy becoming a big problem for Iowa basketball

Iowa's defensive metrics coming into this game were much improved off of back-to-back impressive performances against Rutgers and Penn State. However, on Thursday night Purdue shot 64% from the field and 58% from the three point line in the first half. Iowa's first half struggles offensively were compounded by one key injury and one key player limited to foul trouble. 

Center Filip Rebraca, whose play has elevated significantly over the last few games, suffered an undisclosed injury in the game's opening minutes and did not return in the first half. Then, at the 11:19 mark, star forward Keegan Murray took his second personal foul of the game and did not return for the rest of the first half. 

At the time of his second foul, Murray was struggling from the field with just two points and Iowa trailed 19-9. The Hawkeyes did what they could to keep the game in range but were outscored 29-24 in the final 11 minutes and trailed by 15 points at halftime. 

Iowa forward Kris Murray (24) makes a 3-point basket during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game against Purdue, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

With Rebraca out, McCaffery opted for Kris Murray as his second half starter replacement and he did not disappoint. Murray scored a game-high 17 points in 17 minutes of second half action. 

With the addition of Kris Murray, Iowa's regular starters outscored Purdue 20-12 in the opening eight minutes of the half, cutting the deficit to just seven points, the lowest margin since an early 14-9 score in the first half. 

Iowa cut the lead to as low as five points but Purdue's three-point shooting made the difference in game. Purdue converted on a three pointer on possessions that immediately followed Iowa points four times in the final 11 minutes of gameplay. Iowa's second half play improved dramatically but couldn't string together enough stops to force a one possession game. 

With 11 more games in Big Ten play, Iowa's still in search of their signature win to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume. The metrics favor the Hawkeyes and the eye test matches but with a loaded back half of the schedule, there's more work to be done for good news on 'Selection Sunday'. 

They have a good chance to reach .500 this weekend with a road trip to Penn State, who they just defeated by 17 points on Jan. 22. Then, their chance chance for a signature win: on the road at Ohio State on Feb. 3. 

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at