Nebraska’s inability to get a stop early gave Purdue a big lead and Nebraska couldn’t ever string together enough buckets to get back into the game as the Boilermakers led wire-to-wire in a 74-62 win in West Lafayette on Saturday.
The Huskers (11-6, 2-2) shot 40.7 percent for the game including 35.7 percent in the second half and turned the ball over 16 times. Junior guard James Palmer Jr. (22 points), junior forward Isaac Copeland (16 points) and sophomore forward Isaiah Roby (eight points) combined to shoot 16-of-31 from the field and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. The other seven Huskers scored just 16 points on 6-of-23 from the field and 1-of-2 from the line.
The Huskers held one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country to 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from deep overall and despite their size advantage inside with seven-footers Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms, the Boilermakers (15-2, 4-0) shot under 40 percent from the field in the second half. However, Nebraska wasn’t able to take advantage of Purdue’s offensive struggles.
Purdue only scored two more points in the paint and only made two more free throws than the Huskers did, but the Boilermakers converted Nebraska’s turnovers into 19 points whereas the Huskers only scored 10 points off Purdue’s miscues.
Nebraska had no answer for the Boilermakers early on as Purdue scored on 12 of its first 14 possessions to take a 27-12 lead midway through the first half.
After trading a couple of scores, Purdue finally cooled off as the Huskers picked up their defensive effort, holding the Boilermakers without a field goal for nearly five minutes. Purdue went 0-for-6 from the field with three turnovers and their only points came on a pair of free throws.
The Huskers got as close as seven three different times, but couldn’t get over the hump as Purdue answered every time. Dakota Mathias knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Huskers up 10 and Watson couldn’t answer on the other end, giving Purdue a 41-31 lead at the break.
Senior forward Vince Edwards accounted for 17 points on his own, shooting 7-of-10 from the field with a pair of free throws, five rebounds and thee assists.
Purdue gave Nebraska every chance to get back into the game to open the second half, shooting 3-of-13 with three turnovers in the first eight minutes. However, the Huskers countered by shooting 2-of-13 and turning the ball over four times.
Nebraska cut the deficit to single digits for the first time with a layup by Palmer and a free throw by Watson, but Nebraska failed to score on its next four possessions and Purdue stretched the lead back to 14.
Nebraska got a stop against Haas and Copeland hit a 3 to cut it to 11, and Nebraska forced a turnover on the next possession. However, Copeland threw the outlet pass right to a Boilermaker and Mathias knocked down a 3 of his own. Palmer missed a 3 for Nebraska then PJ Thompson hit one on the other end to stretch it to 17, and the Huskers never threatened the rest of the way.
Edwards finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Boilermakers. Haas and Haarms combined for 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
After putting up 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in a win at Northwestern on Tuesday, junior point guard Glynn Watson Jr. shot just 2-of-10 from the field for seven points, two assists and three turnovers.
After playing three of their first four Big Ten games on the road, the Huskers will return to Lincoln to host a struggling Wisconsin squad (9-8, 2-2) on Tuesday. Tip-off at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. on BTN.
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.