Purdue won’t know if it has won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title until the end of the weekend, but it has a chance to leave the court Saturday knowing it has done everything it can to achieve that goal.
The sixth-ranked Boilermakers try for their eighth straight win overall and ninth in a row over last-place Iowa as they close out the regular season.
Purdue (25-5, 14-3) is still in the running for a share of the conference title after beating Illinois 75-67 on Tuesday to cap an undefeated home schedule.
A victory Saturday and a Buckeyes loss would also earn Purdue the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament because of a better record against third-seeded Wisconsin.
“It definitely would mean a lot,” senior center JaJuan Johnson said. “It definitely can be done. If it doesn’t happen, we still can win the Big Ten tournament and go to the Final Four, so all our goals are intact.”
Johnson had 23 points and six rebounds against the Illini. He’s leading the Big Ten with an average of 20.5 points and is among the top 10 in the nation with 22.1 per game on the road.
Fellow senior E’Twaun Moore had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists Tuesday.
“E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, they make other players better,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
The two have never lost to Iowa in seven meetings, although both were held below their season averages in a 75-52 win Jan. 9. Johnson had 16 points while Moore was held to 11 on 5-of-15 shooting.
They’ll look for a better performance Saturday against struggling Iowa (10-19, 3-14), which is giving up 73.3 points in conference games and has allowed 80 in each of the last two.
Iowa fell for the sixth straight time Wednesday, going 0 for 12 from 3-point range and missing 13 of 33 free-throw attempts in an 85-66 loss at Michigan State. The Hawkeyes trailed by four at halftime, but the Spartans went on an 11-2 run midway through the second half to take control.
“I thought our ball screen defense in the second half was horrendous,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “That’s my fault, it’s not their fault. Maybe I should have subbed a little bit more. I played my key guys major minutes.”
Leading scorers Matt Gatens and Melsahn Basabe each scored 13 points.
This is the second six-game conference losing streak for the Hawkeyes under first-year coach McCaffery. A loss Saturday would give Iowa its fewest victories in Big Ten play since the 1963-64 team went 3-11.
The Boilermakers have won their last three trips to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
- Purdue-Iowa Preview
- Sudden recruiting surge could propel UNLV back to relevance next season
- Joel Berry abruptly withdraws from the draft, returns to North Carolina
- Five biggest losers now that the NBA draft's early entry deadline has passed
- Five biggest winners now that the NBA draft's early-entry deadline has passed
- Did Memphis really lose a recruit to Division II Ouachita Baptist?
- Gonzaga won't slip too far next season even without Nigel Williams-Goss
- NCAA returns events to North Carolina after state repeals elements of HB2
- With Bennie Boatwright back, USC has all the ingredients for a special season
- Why it's OK that there are 182 early-entry candidates for this year's NBA draft
- Kansas fills hole at point guard by adding Cal transfer Charlie Moore
- Facing his toughest rebuild yet, can John Calipari keep Kentucky in title mix?
- Hamidou Diallo declares for draft before playing his first game for Kentucky
- Shareef O'Neal, the heralded son of Shaquille O'Neal, commits to Arizona
- Grayson Allen bypasses the NBA draft to return to Duke for his senior year
- Prized Rice transfer Marcus Evans follows his former coach to VCU