WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue is headed to No. 1. It was a slog to get there.
The No. 2 Boilermakers defeated visiting Iowa 77-70 on Friday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams at Mackey Arena in front of an announced sellout crowd of 14,804 thanks to 19 points from Jaden Ivey and a heroic 13 points and 18 rebounds from Trevion Williams.
The victory very likely means Purdue (8-0) will for the first time in program history ascend to the top spot in the AP Poll when it is released Monday. This week’s No. 1 team, Duke, lost to Ohio State on Tuesday, clearing the way for the Boilers to ascend with a win Friday.
"It's definitely an accomplishment for us," Williams said of likely reaching No. 1. "This is history. It's special, it shows that we're special. But we don't want to settle for that. We want to build off that. Once we become No. 1, we want to stay No. 1. ... I'm excited to be No. 1 in the country, I feel like we've put in the work to deserve that and we show it."
The Boilers led the Hawkeyes by as many as 19 in the second half after Ivey scored eight points in a 3-minute stretch, including a drive through the lane for a finger roll, a drive to the baseline for a flying one-handed dunk and two-handed slam in transition off a steal.
The sophomore punctuated the latter dunk, which put Purdue ahead 63-44 with 9:54 left, with an emotional fist pump and a bellow at the crowd.
Iowa hung in and an 11-0 run sliced the deficit to two with 3:08 left. The Hawkeyes used a full-court trapping defense that frustrated Purdue ball-handlers Isaiah Thompson and Eric Hunter Jr. and led to a spate of turnovers that catalyzed the run.
Hunter played 25 minutes compared to 16 for Thompson, the starter. Purdue coach Matt Painter said Thompson suffered a hip injury when he took a nasty spill in the first half. It seemed apparent to Painter the junior guard was laboring on the court and did not have his usual burst after the fall. As a result, Hunter played down the stretch despite being tired, in Painter's estimation.
Painter was unhappy with his team's handling of Iowa's pressure regardless of the injury to its starting point guard.
"We were careless with the ball," Painter said. "I didn't think we were consistent tonight from a fundamental standpoint. Just clean passes, I thought we were too cute with our passes. We just had to be simple and make fundamental plays. I know that sounds hokey, but what it comes down to, we just had too many turnovers.
"I thought Iowa played harder than us, I thought Iowa was tougher than us," the 17th-year coach added.
The Boilermakers turned the ball over 17 times and the Hawkeyes piled up a 20-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
Purdue responded to Iowa's run when Ivey slashed to the basket for a layup that made it 74-70 with 2:15 to go. Williams grabbed tough rebounds in traffic on each of Iowa’s next two misses to keep the Boilers in front.
The Boilermakers had a 34-24 edge on the glass, led by Williams, who had his highest rebounding total since piling up 20 in a Jan. 9, 2020 win over Michigan.
"We didn't back down," Ivey said. "They went on a run and we just kept battling. We got some rebounds and that led to them fouling us. ... We're just happy we got the win, for real."
After Iowa cut the lead to 72-70 on a Joe Toussaint layup with 2:32 left, the Hawkeyes missed their final seven shots and did not score again. The No. 1 scoring team in the country was held to 24 points less than its season average and shot just 40%, including 27% in the first half, and 5 for 21 from 3-point range.
Purdue, the No. 1 team in the nation in field goal percentage at nearly 55%, shot just 42%, though it was 8 for 19 from 3-point range.
Blackhawk Christian graduate Caleb Furst had 2 points on 1-for-2 shooting, seven rebounds and a block in 22 minutes. He started, but redshirt sophomore Mason Gillis played in his place in the final 4:40. Gillis had 12 points on 2-for-3 shooting from the field and 6 for 6 at the foul line.
The Hawkeyes (7-1) were without forward Keegan Murray, the nation’s second-leading scorer at 24.6 points per game, who suffered an ankle injury in the waning minutes of his team's win over Virginia on Monday. The sophomore also averages 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
The teams combined to commit 47 fouls and shoot 59 free throws, including 37 for the Boilermakers. Purdue made 27 of those foul shots.