With just one second left on the shot clock and Purdue clinging to a single digit lead Purdue took the ball out from underneath the basket. The game was returning from a TV timeout so Head Coach Matt Painter had plenty of time to draw up a play. Purdue would find Grady Eifert for an easy bucket right by the basket. It would be a bucket that epitomized not just this game but Grady Eifert as well. Just a few possessions later Carsen Edwards would take a poor three as the shot clock wound down and it would be nowhere close to going in. Who else would jump in to save the day and again score a bucket with just one second left on the shot clock? None other than Grady Eiftert. The game would stabilize and ultimately Purdue would win but those two buckets by Eifert would be key to keeping Nebraska at bay.
John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG): This one is easy to me. It has to be Grady Eifert. He didn’t lead the team in scoring, but the buckets he made were incredibly important and incredibly well timed. The man continues to find ways to impact comes. He was constantly hustling for loose balls, he threw rebounds off of Nebraska players to keep possession with Purdue. The guy is hustle come to life. He earned this as he was instrumental in yet another conference win for the Boilermakers. He finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 0 turnovers.
As the game started Carsen Edwards was coming off of three halves of basketball that he would rather forget. Intent on changing that he came into the game and started 3-4 from the field. Then things went off the rails. Carsen finished the game 3-16 from the floor. Yeah, you read that right. That means after that first few minutes of the game Carsen went an abysmal 0-12 from the floor. That means he made 0 shots in the second half, and the majority of the first. I don’t know what Carsen’s issue is right now but it says something about this Purdue team that they continue to find ways to win despite their best scorer struggling mightily from everywhere on the court. The thing with Carsen is too that his offense impacts his defense and when his shots aren’t falling and he isn’t getting the calls he thinks he deserves he often gets back slow on defense or doesn’t put in the effort we all expect from a Purdue player. Right now things aren’t looking good for Edwards but he’s still got time to turn it around.
Meanwhile in the first half the two teams were both looking rather good offensively with Nebraska shooting 6-12 for a cool 50% from deep in that first half. That compares to their season average of 33%. Thus, the trend of a team shooting out of their minds from three against the Boilermakers continued. Purdue also was shooting well in the first half going 5-1 from three for a solid 41.7%. The two teams traded leads back and forth for the majority of the first half until Purdue was able to build up a small bit of cushion resulting in a 38-36 halftime lead off the back of a Ryan Cline three to end the half.
The second half proceeded in nearly opposite fashion from the first with both teams looking terribly abysmal from the floor with neither truly ever able to get a rhythm going before getting in their own way. The game remained uncomfortably close throughout the second half until the JWMPOTG stepped in with his two late in the shot clock buckets to put the game away. Purdue would then salt away the victory at the free throw line. Purdue would finish 23-26 at the line as Nebraska continuously put them at the line as the clock ticked down but Purdue wouldn’t allow them to take advantage.
- Matt Haarms continues to turn it on this season as he finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds. He also was 7-7 from the line.
- Trevion Williams continues to struggle following his bout with the flu. He went just 1-7 from the floor. His legs don’t appear to have come back to him. That could be related to the flu or he could be hitting the proverbial freshman wall.
- In addition to free throws Purdue won the game with rebounding. Purdue outrebounded the Cornhuskers 48-30 including Purdue grabbing 19 offensive rebounds to Nebraska’s 9. This included a memorable Purdue possession that saw them grab three offensive rebounds before Cline ultimately hit a three.
- Despite the 50% start from three Nebraska ultimately did fall back to earth and wind up just a shade above their season average. They wound up going 8-23 for 34.8%. I guess it’s true what they say, water really does find its level.
Purdue now sits at 20-7 on the season and has won 20 games for the fifth straight season. They are 13-3 in conference play with just four games left in the season. The drive for the 24th Big Ten championship remains alive. Two on the road and two at home to go. Let’s keep this train rolling.