After Tuesday’s narrow escape in Bloomington we have another tough road trip against a team that is reeling. Nebraska began the season with high expectations. After going 13-5 in Big Ten play last season and missing the NCAA Tournament they returned a bunch of experience. They even had a couple brief appearances in the top 25 and were 11-2 as the year turned over to 2019. Since then, they have struggled greatly. They are just 4-10 since then, with a 7-game losing streak in the middle of it since losing Isaac Copeland Jr. They have played better in the last few games, but are coming off of a 24-point loss at Penn State.
There is no question Purdue needs to play better after Tuesday.
From: Lincoln, NE
Date: Saturday, Febraury 23, 2019
Tip Time: 2 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,500)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2017-18 Record: 22-11, 13-5 Big Ten
2018-19 Record: 15-12, 5-11 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Corn Nation
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 15-5
Last Nebraska Win: 83-80 on 1/29/2017 at Nebraska
Last Purdue Win: 81-62 on 2/9/2019 at Purdue
NCAA Tournament History: 7 appearances, last in 2014. Only Major Conference team to never win an NCAA Tournament game.
Coach: Tim Miles (112-108 in 7th season at Nebraska, 395-328 in 24th season overall)
This game carries some significance for Purdue juniors Carsen Edwards and Tommy Luce. They can complete their own Delaney Dozen by winning in all 14 Big Ten arenas with a victory on Saturday, joining last year’s departed seniors, Jacquil Taylor, Ryan Cline, Grady Eifert, and Iowa’s Peter Jok in that club. Cline and Eifert also now have 102 wins in their careers, and they need five more to tie the school record for most in a class (2011).
This is a rematch from two weeks ago, when Purdue led by two at the half and pulled away to win by 19 thanks to Grady Eifert. Eifert finished with a career high 16 and Carsen had 27 as the Boilers completely dominated the second half. Thomas Allen led Nebraska with 18, but Purdue had success because it limited everyone else. James Palmer Jr. had 17 and Isaiah Roby had 10, but the Huskers shot only 38.2% from the field.
Since that game Nebraska has beaten Minnesota by 1 and Northwestern by 9 at home, but had the 24 point loss at Penn State. The offense has been about 10 points below its season average of 71.9 points per game, as the Huskers have been below 65 points per game in 7 of the last 8. They have made up for it by being one of the Big Ten’s better defensive teams.
The thing is that they still have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament, and a home win over Purdue would be a huge step towards that. They have to go to the Michigan schools and host Iowa after this, but the opportunity is there if they can start winning again.
Purdue also will need to play much, much better than it did at Indiana. We’re damn lucky we were able to pull that game out. Any other team in the conference would have easily beaten us Tuesday night. We also had a horrid shooting second half at Maryland and the 23 turnovers against Penn State. We’re 2-1 in the last three games despite not playing great basketball. Nebraska is good enough to make us pay for that.
First, Carsen needs to get back on track. The good news is that he couldn’t have a much worse game than he did at Indiana. He is shooting just under 40% from the floor on the season and 35.4% from three, but his last three games have been pretty bad. He is 18 of 62 from the field, 6 of 29 from three, and even 12 of 16 from the line. His Minnesota game wasn’t great, either. Basically, he is due to snap out of it. He needs to slow down, play within himself, and concentrate on getting everyone involved as opposed to his hero ball that shot us out of Maryland and nearly cost us at Indiana.
Second, we need to keep busting ass and doing the little things. Trevion Williams will hopefully be over his illness that has limited him in the last two games. Since dropping 16 on Minnesota has been kind of quiet, so he is due as well. Purdue has gotten where it is by having everyone doing their part. Yes, Carsen has done much of the heavy lifting, but it is little things like a three here from Aaron Wheeler or a putback by Nojel Eastern that have been big. Eric Hunter Jr. is a player that could use a breakout, too.
A victory in this game keeps the door open for a Big Ten title, but it will not be easy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to inclement weather in Lincoln tipoff has now been moved to 2pm ET.