IOWA CITY, Iowa. — Isaiah Thompson has played enough games at Purdue in three years to be able to know how to take the good with the bad. The junior point guard would have been bothered by a slump in years past, but not now.
It's just all about continuing to work, and waiting for it to pay off. That happened for Thompson and his teammates Thursday night, where he scored a career-high 18 points in leading Purdue to an 83-73 road win over Iowa.
Just a few weeks ago, Thompson went through a four-game stretch where he made just 2-of-16 shots. But he just kept grinding, working hard and even spending a day with his father, LaSalle Thompson, just getting back to the basics.
"I just wanted to get back to the basics of doing what my dad taught me all my life,'' Thompson said outside the Purdue locker room after the win, which raised Purdue's record to 17-3 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten, a game out of first in the league standings.
"I figured one of these nights would come where I would make some shots, and it just happened to be tonight.''
Four Boilermakers scored in double figures, with Thompson leading the way with his 18 points. Jaden Ivey, who missed last Sunday's game with a hip flexor injury had 15 points off the bench, guard Sasha Stefanovic added 14 and Trevion Williams had 12.
Purdue did a good job of handling Iowa's full-court pressure most of the night, limiting turnovers and pushing the ball into the front court to find open shooters. They made seven three-pointers in the first half to grab a double-digit lead, and were 13-of-22 from deep for the game, a 59.1 percentage.
Stefanovic had three first-half three-pointers, and Ivey's first three put Purdue up 30-15. Purdue kept its foot on the gas and led by 15 at the break at 48-33.
As is so typical in the Big Ten, the homestanding Hawkeyes made a run early in the second half, riding the Murray twins — Keegan and Kris — to get back to within four points at 57-52 with 12:22 to go. The Murrays scored 15 of the 18 Iowa points in the run to trim the lead.
But the Boilers did a great job defensively down the stretch, which made a big difference. Iowa went more than 5 minutes without a field goal, and with Thompson, Ivey and Stefanovic still hot, the lead was quickly back up to 13.
Purdue shot 61.2 percent from the field, but the lone dark spot was their struggles from the free throw line. Purdue made just 10-of-22 free throws. with Ivey going just 2-for-7 and Mason Gillis, who was 20-of-21 coming into the game, missing both of his attempts.
Purdue now has six Big Ten wins, and the Boilermakers are just a game behind 7-2 Wisconsin and Illinois in the crowded-at-the-top league standings. Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana also have six league wins. Purdue hosts Ohio State on Sunday at Mackey Arena.
Purdue handled Iowa's pressure much better Thursday night than it did in December when Iowa nearly stole a game at Mackey with a slew of late turnovers. This time they were more patient, and did a better job of staying in position, Thompson said.
"We wanted to do a better job of attacking them once we broke it, and thought we did a better job of that tonight compared to what we did at Mackey,'' he said. "It got us a lot of opportunities for open threes and easy penetration to the basket, and we took advantage of a lot of that.
"We were just all in our right positions and doing our jobs. I think we were just prepared for it more, and we were more aggressive.''
Purdue coach Matt Painter was glad to see Thompson bounce back after a few weeks of struggles.
"There's a long period of times where he doesn't get a lot of looks, and that's on me as much as anybody,'' Painter said. "We ran a couple of things for him tonight, and he stepped up and made some plays.
"We were able to get in transition and play off of that. I thought our guys did a great job of making some huge shots. It wasn't just one guy; a lot of guys made shots.''
Iowa fell to 14-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten. Kris Murray had 23, Keegan Murray added 14 and Patrick McCaffery was in double figures with 11.
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