The Boilermakers kept their tournament fight alive Tuesday night after defeating No. 18 Iowa 77-68.
“Iowa’s had a great year,” head coach Matt Painter said. “They’ve put themselves in a great position and had some great non-conference wins, they’ve had some great conference wins. Anytime you can play someone on the road with a resume like Iowa, it’s definitely going to help you.”
This has been an up and down season for the Boilers (16-14, 9-10 Big Ten), who have secured only their fourth road victory out of 12 away games this season. Despite only being two games over .500 and having a losing record in the Big Ten, the Boilermakers’ five wins against ranked teams are keeping them alive, but barely.
“I think it puts us in position to be in position,” senior forward Evan Boudreaux said. “By no means are we in, we aren’t in a position where we feel safe by any means. We know Saturday’s a really big game, especially with Rutgers beating Maryland (on Tuesday). And then going into the Big Ten Tournament, we know we have to handle business there as well.”
Boudreaux played an important role for the Boilermakers against the Hawkeyes (20-10, 11-8). He totaled 14 points and led the team with 14 rebounds. The senior’s hustle on both sides of the ball kept a normally relentless Iowa at bay.
“I fed off of (Boudreaux),” sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr said. “He was scrapping, he wanted every rebound. He was just making the right plays, and you can tell he’s a veteran guy. He’s one of those guys I definitely look up to in terms of poise and being able to handle stuff.”
Hunter also had a big night for the Boilermakers, which the team is hoping will continue into the weekend against Rutgers. The sophomore led the team in points with 19, along with three steals.
“It’s desperation at this point,” Hunter said. “We know what we gotta do to get where we want to be, which is in the tournament. We gotta win out, we gotta get good wins against great teams. We have another great team we’re playing against on Saturday in Rutgers. There’s a lot of emotions going right now.”
Had Purdue lost the matchup against Iowa, it’s tournament hopes would have likely faded away. The win on Tuesday, and a win on Saturday would give Purdue a big boost in terms of NCAA bracketology.