As a sizable early lead steadily evaporated in crunch time, Iowa hardly trembled in passing Monday’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge test at Virginia.
Joe Toussaint banked home the go-ahead points with eight seconds to play as the Hawkeyes improved to 7-0 with a 75-74 victory.
“We never get intimidated as a team. It never crosses our mind,” Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon said. “I believe we’re all dogs on this team. When one guy falls down, we all have each other’s backs.”
Iowa will look to maintain that mentality Friday as the Hawkeyes visit No. 2 Purdue to begin Big Ten play.
Make no mistake, the Hawkeyes figured to rely on their experience to start the week as more stiff competition awaits. Iowa built a 44-30 halftime advantage but ultimately found itself in a slugfest late, needing a Patrick McCaffery block in the closing seconds to preserve the win.
“You’re on the road playing one of the best teams in the country, packed house, and at some point in the game there is going to be some adversity,” Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery said. “We overcame adversity a number of different times and got contributions from a lot of different people. And what a hard-fought game. It was (a) very physical, hard-fought game. I am proud of these guys when they come out with the ‘W’ in those difficult situations.”
The Hawkeyes expect to have frontcourt star and leading scorer Keegan Murray in the fold after Murray suffered an apparent injury to his right ankle with 8:27 remaining against Virginia. Murray, who returned for the closing stages against the Cavaliers, had 18 points and nine rebounds.
Bohannon led the team with 20 points while shooting 6-for-9 from long range, while Toussaint chipped in 10 points.
Purdue (7-0) rolled in its final tune-up before starting conference play, routing visiting Florida State 93-65 in Big Ten/ACC play.
Jaden Ivey paced the Boilermakers with 18 points, including a career-high-tying four treys. Brandon Newman was next with 13 points.
Purdue sits at 7-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season and is off to the program’s seventh such start since 1940.
The Boilermakers have finished at least 50 percent from the floor in each game as they stalk the first No. 1 ranking in school history. Top-ranked Duke fell to Ohio State on Tuesday night.
“I think it just comes from all the hard work we put in in practice and buying in to what the coaches tell us,” Ivey said. “Then when the game comes, it’s executing perfectly. I think if we do that, we can be a really good team. We already are.”
The teams also clashed to begin Big Ten play a season ago, with the Hawkeyes defending their home court with a 70-55 victory. The Hawkeyes are seeking their first 8-0 start since 2000-01 and are bidding to upset a No. 2-ranked foe while unranked for the first time since March 1991.
Purdue leads the all-time series 23-16, including a 14-4 edge in games played at home. The Boilermakers have claimed six of the past 10 meetings and four of five.
–Field Level Media