Some revenge in mind as Purdue opens Big Ten play vs. Iowa

Purdue's Vince Edwards says losing twice last season to Iowa is not a good memory. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Big Ten scoring leader Peter Jok and the conference’s No. 4 scorer and top rebounder Caleb Swanigan will take center stage Wednesday night in Mackey Arena when Iowa and No. 15 Purdue begin their 18-game league schedules.

Jok, who is averaging 22.6 points, has led the Hawkeyes (8-5) to five consecutive victories after losing five of their first eight.

Swanigan, who is averaging 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds, has helped the Boilermakers (11-2) win six in a row. Purdue has lost only to No. 1 Villanova and No. 6 Louisville.

For Purdue, there’s a bit of a revenge element at play after Iowa rallied to defeat the Boilermakers last January in Mackey Arena, then completed the two-game sweep several weeks later in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

From the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Purdue is 24-2 in Mackey Arena, losing only to Iowa and Villanova.

For Purdue junior forward Vince Edwards, losing twice last season to Iowa is not a good memory.

“It was frustrating, especially the first game here when we were up by like 18 at the half,” Vince Edwards said. “They also got us at their place, so going into this game, our coaches kind of talked about that. At this point, it’s more about what it takes to be successful in the Big Ten.”

To have a successful start, the Boilermakers must make it difficult for Jok.

“Jok is the senior leader of that team, so he is going to do everything in his power to try to start them off with a win in the Big Ten,” Vince Edwards said. “We want to make sure that we make him take more shots than he has points. He has a good young team around him, but with our maturity and experience, we should be able to take care of business.”

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Tuesday that Iowa’s business at Purdue centers on Swanigan, who has four consecutive double-doubles and back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Week awards.

“To me, guarding Swanigan is really difficult, because he is so strong and crafty,” McCaffery said. “The difference this year is that he is taking intelligent shots. Last year, he took a lot of shots. This year, I haven’t seen him take a bad shot. He took bad shots last year.

“He has stayed aggressive, because that is who he is. This year, his offensive efficiency is why his numbers are what they are and is why they are winning the way they are.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter remembers vividly losing last season at home to Iowa.

“Any time you get up by 19 points and have those games under control, but then you realize it’s only halfway over,” Painter said. “This year against Notre Dame, we did the same thing. We were down 14 at the half, and then it’s down to four quickly, and we won (86-81).

“Fran does a great job at Iowa. They run motion offense and really push the basketball and control the game. They really come at you. Last year, we played them at the wrong time. They were really good early in the year and then had their struggles. But this is going to be a tough game for us. Jok is one of the best scorers in the country.”

And Iowa will welcome the return of 6-foot-9 freshman forward Tyler Cook, who has missed the seven most recent games with a broken right index finger. Cook is averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Purdue freshman starting guard Carsen Edwards — no relation to Vince Edwards — is eager to compete in his first Big Ten game.

“Iowa’s a good team,” Carsen Edwards said. “Every possession is important, so I am excited. It is a long season, but with those games at home, getting that momentum is very important.

“I have heard a lot about how the Big Ten is a very tough conference and that it is very competitive. I don’t know who would want it any other way.”