With one more victory, Purdue will have the longest winning streak in the Matt Painter era. It will also set the program’s second-longest winning streak to open a season.
The fourth-ranked Boilermakers will try to accomplish both Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena where they’ll play their Big Ten opener against Iowa.
Purdue improved to 11-0 with a 90-63 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Dec. 22. The Boilermakers’ winning streak matches the 11-game run under Painter from Jan. 12-Feb. 16, 2008.
“I think we’ve had some times in the past couple of years where we’ve had some letdowns after playing some so-called big games, and I think it’s because of our maturity that we’ve been ready to play every game this year,” said Painter, who took over for Gene Keady prior to the 2005-06 season.
A sixth straight victory over Iowa will move Purdue past the 1936-37 Boilermakers team that opened 11-0. Purdue needs three more wins to match the program-record 14-0 start in 1993-94.
The way the Boilermakers have been playing defense, they could easily tie or break that mark. Purdue is fourth in the Big Ten in field goal defense at 39.4 percent, leads the conference in turnover margin (7.2) and is averaging 16.0 offensive rebounds in its last four contests.
Junior forward JaJuan Johnson, who leads the Big Ten with 3.4 offensive rebounds per game, had 13 points and teammate E’Twaun Moore scored 16 points with 10 rebounds as Purdue defeated host Iowa 49-45 on Feb. 14 in the teams’ last meeting.
Robbie Hummel, who scored two points in that matchup after missing the previous three with a hairline fracture in his lower back, is two free throws away from tying the school record of 34 straight made by Jerry Sichting during the 1978-79 season. Hummel, who leads the Big Ten with 93.3 percent from the foul line and is seventh in rebounds at 6.8, is averaging a career-best 14.7 points.
At 5-7, Iowa is far from the 10-3 mark it had entering Big Ten play last season. The loss of sophomore guard Anthony Tucker, the Hawkeyes’ second-leading scorer, to an indefinite suspension last week, won’t help Iowa in its run through conference play.
Without Tucker, though, Iowa won its second straight with a 82-69 victory over South Carolina State on Dec. 21. Sophomore guard Matt Gatens, who leads Iowa with 13.4 points per game, scored 20 with a career-high eight assists as the Hawkeyes shot a season-best 56.9 percent from the field in their highest-scoring output in three seasons.
“I’m real proud of the guys for stepping up,” said Gatens, averaging 19.0 points in his last four games.
Hawkeyes leading rebounder Jarryd Cole is expected to play Tuesday after leaving in the fourth quarter of the Dec. 21 victory with a mild ankle sprain. Cole, a junior, is second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 63.2.
“He really looks good,” Hawkeyes coach Todd Lickliter told the school’s official Web site. “The injury was low, and I think it was on the top of his foot. The trainers got on it immediately.”
Iowa, which went 5-4 at home in Big Ten play last season, has lost two straight to Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since a 78-59 victory on Feb. 21, 2007.