Streaking Hawkeyes face hardest road test on schedule at Purdue

Matthew Bain
Iowa's Alexa Kastanek looks for an open teammate during the Hawkeyes' game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Purdue Boilermakers play their home games in Mackey Arena, a concrete relic from 1967, when the Big Ten actually had 10 teams. It’s undergone upwards of 15 separate renovations in the past 20 years, including the installation of a new playing surface last year and a new video board and sound system back in 2004.

One thing hasn’t changed, though: Mackey Arena is, and always has been, a glorified echo chamber.

If enough people show up to capitalize on the acoustics, Mackey Arena is one of the toughest places to play in the country.

And people show up. Purdue draws an average home crowd of 5,811, second-best in the conference to Michigan State’s 6,009.

The Iowa Hawkeyes, fresh off a thumping, 19-point win against Northwestern, play at Mackey Arena this Sunday. They’ve lost 10 of their last 11 trips to West Lafayette, Ind., by an average margin of 14 points.

"Playing at Purdue is always a tough place to play," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "We did win there a couple years ago, and ironically it was during the pink game, and that's what we'll be playing again on Sunday."

Purdue, which sits tied for sixth in the Big Ten with Iowa and Michigan State, boasts arguably the best defense in conference. It allows the fewest points per game (58.7) and it’s  .2 percen behind first place in opponent's field-goal percentage (37.8).

It runs an aggressive scheme spearheaded by senior guard Ashley Morrissette, who’s tied for third in the Big Ten with 2.4 steals per game.

Bluder thinks her young team will be ready.

"This time of year you've seen almost every style," Bluder said. "You've seen teams that sag, you've seen teams that deny, you've seen teams that zone. So you should be prepared for almost anything this time of year. So I think they can adjust on the fly pretty well."

Those defensive numbers are about the only scary ones for the Boilermakers. Otherwise, they hover around the middle of the Big Ten pack. They’ve fallen off in the RPI rankings (currently 98th) while Iowa is steadily rising, up to 44 in the latest update on

Morrissette leads Purdue with 15.6 points per game. Dominique Oden (10.9) and Bridget Perry (10.4) also average double figures.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

Sunday's game

Iowa Hawkeyes (16-10, 7-6, T-6th) at Purdue Boilermakers (16-11, 7-6, T-6th)

When/where: 11 a.m., Mackey Arena

TV: Big Ten Network

About the game: Iowa has won three of the last four games against Purdue, but it's lost 10 of its past 11 trips to Mackey Arena.