No. 7 Purdue buried Nebraska in the first five minutes on Friday night and the Boilermakers wore the Huskers down the rest of the way en route to a 92-65 victory at Mackey Arena.
Foul trouble, turnovers and Purdue’s sheer size all worked against the Huskers as they fell to 0-7 in Big Ten play and 6-12 overall.
The Huskers shot 45.6% from the field including 42.1% from deep but only 38.5% (5-of-13) from the free-throw line.
Derrick Walker played just 20 minutes before fouling out, snapping his streak of double-digit scoring games at five with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. Bryce McGowens played with foul trouble much of the game as well and finished with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting.
“Foul trouble and turnovers, that was the big key to them getting out to that 19-point lead in the first seven minutes of that game,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said during his postgame radio interview. “You just look at the two categories, they scored 49 points off turnovers and on second-chance points off offensive rebounds. Bryce, Derrick and Eduardo [Andre] all pick up two right away, they’re in the bonus before the first media timeout in both halves; I’ve never been a part of something like that. Their physicality just overwhelmed us from that standpoint.”
Keisei Tominaga led the Huskers with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2-of-3 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the line. Alonzo Verge Jr. and C.J. Wilcher chipped in 10 points apiece.
Purdue dominated Nebraska inside, outscoring the Huskers 46 to 24 in the paint and 21 to four in second-chance points behind 22 points on 9-of-12 form the field and 4-of-9 from the line by the 7-foot-4 Zach Edey. Trevion Williams and Caleb Furst (both listed at 6-foot-10) scored 10 points apiece off the bench while future NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey put up 17 points, five assists and four rebounds in just 23 minutes before calling it a night.
Purdue outscored Nebraska 28 to seven in points off turnovers. The Boilermakers only shot 31% from deep, but they hit one more 3 than Nebraska because of greater volume. Purdue also shot 19-of-27 from the free-throw line.
“Too many turnovers, didn’t finish around the basket on some shots early, and they got downhill,” Hoiberg said. “We kept fighting, we kept battling. I didn’t think it was an effort thing tonight. We’ve got to clean up those two areas, the points off turnovers. We were really good early in the year in that and when we lose that’s been a huge Achilles heel for us in that area. And then the glass, that’s something we knew going in, rebounding was gong to be an issue, but you’ve got to find a way, our guards have to be able to get in there and join the fight, get over the top when our bigs are locked up in a battle with those big guys.”
Nebraska picked up seven fouls before the first media timeout — including two apiece on Walker, McGowens and Eduardo Andre. The Huskers hit just one of their first six shots and turned the ball over five times early on as Purdue used a 14-0 run to break open a 17-2 lead.
“This building is unlike any other that we played in to this point,” Hoiberg said. “It’s just, right from the beginning, it’s it’s a very intimidating place to play. We didn’t handle that, obviously, well in the beginning. Derrick picks up two and he’s as key as anybody on this team, fighting the hell out of two of the best bigs in the league, and that that kills us.”
A couple more turnovers — against a team that was ranked 321st in the nation in forcing turnovers — allowed the Boilermakers to push their lead to as much as 19 before the bench backcourt provided a spark for the Huskers with five quick points and an assist from Kobe Webster plus a tough turn-around jumper from Wilcher to help cut the lead to 13.
The Huskers got it down to 12 at one point before going cold again, missing six of seven shots from the field as the Boilermakers stretched the lead out to 19. Verge and Wilcher closed the half strong, however, orchestrating a 12-8 run to cut the deficit to 15 at the break. Verge scored a three-point play and then hit a 3 on consecutive possessions, then Wilcher knocked down back-to-back 3s to end the half including a deep bank at the buzzer.
Verge and Wilcher led Nebraska with eight points apiece in the half as Purdue took a 48-33 lead into the locker room. Nebraska shot 6-of-10 from deep but turned the ball over 12 times. Purdue shot 50% from the field (5-of-14 form 3) and 9-of-10 at the foul line while outscoring the Huskers 24 to eight in the paint and 13 to nothing in points off turnovers.
The start of the second half mirrored the first as Nebraska picked up six fouls before Purdue’s first. The Boilermakers pushed the lead to 21 less than two minutes into the half. A 6-1 run including back-to-back buckets from Walker cut it down to 16, but the Boilermakers answered with a 15-2 soon after, stretching the lead to 30.
“I thought we battled them after that initial stretch,” Hoiberg said. “I thought we fought to get back to 15 at the break, had a chance to get it back to 14 in the second half. We missed two free throws, turned it over on the offensive rebound, they go down and miss, get the offensive rebound, hit a 3 and then it just spiraled down from there.”
McGowens ended the run with a bucket in the lane, but Walker fouled out on the next possession with 8:20 remaining and 25 was as close as the Huskers could get the rest of the way.
Nebraska shot 2-of-9 from 3 and 2-of-9 from the free-throw line in the second half (Purdue shot 4-of-15 and 10-of-17, respectively).
The Huskers will return home for a rematch with Indiana on Monday. The Hoosiers won the first meeting in Bloomington 68-55 on Dec. 4.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.