Purdue dominates Iowa in Chris Street Forever 40 Memorial Game
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Chris Street halftime tribute brought everyone in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to their feet. It brought some to tears.
Former teammates and coaches of the late Chris Street were recognized as part of the Chris Street Forever 40 Memorial Game on Saturday. Friday, January 19, marked 25 years to the day that the former Hawkeye great was tragically killed in a car accident during his junior season.
No ovations were louder than the ones received by Street’s former coaches – assistant Gary Close and head coach Tom Davis – and for his parents – Mike and Patty Street. It was a powerful moment, and it’s clear that Street had, and still has, an impact on many people, even 25 years after his untimely death.
The Forever 40 tribute for one of Iowa’s best was the highlight of the day, and it’s not even close.
Unfortunately, neither was the game.
Iowa was no match for No. 3 Purdue as the Boilermakers collected a decisive 87-64 victory, perhaps the easiest conference victory they will have all season.
While the Hawkeyes are clearly not having a good season, Purdue is one of just a handful of teams with a legitimate chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
It really wasn’t close. Purdue led by a walloping 31 points at halftime and stretched the lead as high as 37 early in the second half. Iowa’s defensive woes were highlighted in a big way.
Four Boilermakers reached double figures, mostly by way of three-point shots. Carsen Edwards (22), Vincent Edwards (19), P.J. Thompson (14), and Dakota Mathias (12) led a shooting spree that even Hawkeye fans had to appreciate.
Purdue shot an uncanny 60.6 percent from behind the arc, sinking 20 of their 33 attempts. Most shots were uncontested, as the quick-moving offense confused the Hawkeyes all game, no matter how hard they tied to defend the arc.
At one point in the second half, fans actually gave sarcastic cheers when one of the four stars missed a three-pointer. It really was impressive, and it’s one reason the Boilermakers are poised for a run at a National Championship.
For Iowa, nothing seemed to go right. Once falling behind by 30, it’s no secret that the energy level will decrease. The effort wasn’t there for most of the guys on the floor, but one Hawkeye displayed hustle that embodied that of Street.
Freshman Luka Garza was the only Hawkeye who never abandoned the fight. Garza battled as if the Hawkeyes trailed by just seven, not 27.
The game didn’t get off to a great start for Garza. First, he air-balled a pair shots, then he took an elbow from Purdue’s Isaac Haas, bloodying his nose. Garza sat for a lot of the first half while trainers tried to stop the bleeding.
In the second half, Garza finally found a groove and strung a few shots together. All still in attendance who had just watched the Chris Street tribute had to be proud of the young Hawkeye’s determination. Garza led the Hawkeyes with 19 points, the only Hawkeye in double figures.
Even though the score was as bad as any in recent memory, Garza gave Iowa fans a reason to smile, and to be proud.
Playing hard is perhaps the best way of all to honor one of the hardest working Hawkeyes there ever was. Garza did just that.
The season continues as Iowa (10-11, 1-7 Big Ten) returns to action on Tuesday when the Hawkeyes host the Wisconsin Badgers (10-10, 3-4 Big Ten). Game time is 6:00pm CST on ESPN2.