No. 24 Iowa closes out No. 9 Purdue 75-66 for Big Ten title
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Keegan Murray had 19 points and 11 rebounds as No. 24 Iowa beat No. 9 Purdue 75-66 to win its first Big Ten Tournament championship since 2006 and earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
The sixth-seeded Hawkeyes (26-9) became the fourth team in conference history to claim the title by winning four games in four days. Iowa was also the first school to do it, in 2001, and Michigan repeated the feat in 2017 and 2018.
The Hawkeyes won their first title since 2006, one week after the Iowa women won the Big Ten tourney on the same court.
“We knew this team was destined for greatness,” said Murray, who was selected the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “And we changed the direction of the Iowa program today.”
Iowa did it with a record-breaking scoring performance and by beating the Boilermakers about a one-hour drive from their campus in West Lafayette. Iowa’s 351 points broke Ohio State’s tournament record of 322, set last year.
Iowa heads into the NCAA Tournament with nine wins in its last 10 games.
Jaden Ivey scored 20 points and Trevion Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds to lead Purdue (28-7), which failed to capture either the regular-season or tournament title despite spending most of the season as the highest-ranked team in the conference. Purdue hasn’t won the Big Ten Tournament since 2009.
It’s not as if the Boilermakers didn’t have a chance.
But Purdue had nine turnovers, missed four free throws and never led in the first half as the energized Hawkeyes took a 35-32 halftime lead.
With the Purdue-friendly crowd roaring loudly early in the second half, it looked like the Boilermakers would respond when Eric Hunter Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3:13 to play capped a 7-0 run that trimmed the deficit to 63-62.
But Connor McCaffery responded with a three-point play on the ensuing possession. Iowa only allowed four points the rest of the way, closing it out at the line, silencing the crowd and setting off a wild post-game celebration near midcourt.
“It is hard to describe,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “This game is really special, special to me because I get to coach my boys and to see them celebrate with their teammates and celebrate together, there’s no better feeling.”
Indianapolis native Tony Perkins had 11 points and four assists for the Hawkeyes while Payton Sandfort added 10 points.
“We had a lot of goals and sometimes you have to make changes,” Fran McCaffery said. “But this team accepted its roles and we beat a really good team today.”
Zach Edey had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Purdue.
Iowa: A strong finish — and tourney title — could propel the Hawkeyes to a top-five seed, maybe even a No. 4 seed, and a possible trip to Milwaukee. Regardless of who they play or where they land, one of America’s most prolific scoring teams will be a handful.
Purdue: A loss in the championship game could prove costly to the Boilermakers. They could slide from the No. 2 line to the No. 3 line. Will it cost them a second straight bus trip down I-65 to Indianapolis? Maybe. But Purdue needs fewer unforced errors on offense and more production from its 3-point shooters.
Iowa will continue ascending in Monday’s rankings, perhaps even cracking the top 15. The bigger question is whether Purdue did enough to extend its record streak of consecutive weeks in the top 10 to 19.
Murry and Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, who banked in the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to beat Indiana on Saturday, were both selected to the all-tournament team. They were joined by Ivey, Williams and Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana.