Purdue knocked off Nebraska 65 to 62 in Lincoln, improving their record to 10-0 and 2-0 in the Big 10.
1st Half Summary
Early on in the first half, both teams struggled from the field, but in very different ways: Purdue was creating open shots that were not taken advantage of while Nebraska was missing well-contested shots by lengthy Boilermakers playing tight defense. Purdue’s wingers as a unit were closing out even the slightest of open shots and staying alert as the Huskers attempted some Boileresque ball movement.
Eventually the shots started falling for the Boilermakers as they sustained creating shots for their teammates as, surprise surprise, Zach Edey was drawing double teams. Edey finished the half with eight points on four-for-four shooting with seven rebounds and a two blocks, which for him is a modest half.
My favorite adjustments I saw in between the time it was tied at nine points eight minutes into the game:
- Edey was getting beat down low by smaller bigs as they where essentially trying to get him off balance by backing into the lower part of his 7’4” frame, and he got beat twice by Nebraska’s Derrick Walker, but he’s since adjusted his stance to a bit wider down low and kept stifling the Huskers in the paint.
- Reigning Big 10 Freshman Of The Week Fletcher Loyer’s outside shots weren’t hitting, so he started becoming a fearless driver of the lane. And it worked for him.
2nd Half Summary
The second half started swimingly for Purdue...then Nebraska all of a sudden became elite three point shooters, even on contested shots. Keisei Tominaga hit several crucial threes and the Huskers chipped away at the Boilermakers’ lead, and as the clock approached zero, it seemed as if Purdue couldn’t land a rebound with two hands. Tipped balls out of bounds, tipped balls back to the Huskers as the home team continued to miss potential daggers, dropped rebounds: they’ll cause spikes in your blood pressure.
Eventually Nebraska erased Purdue’s 10-point first half lead and took things to overtime, achieving their first lead of the game in the extra minutes. It was proving to be a test in resilience for a young team in their first conference road game of the season, but Matt Painter’s team was able to finish strong with some clutch shots and free throws from Loyer and Smith, respectively. That was especially reassuring for Purdue faithful as the Boilermakers struggled from the stripe all afternoon.
It wasn’t pretty, but some well-timed shots after offensive struggles and some (sorry) Tenacious D kept the good guys in it to secure the win. They don’t ask how, they ask how many, and all that matters right now is that Purdue is 10-0 and escaped a game during which they were creating good shots that wouldn’t fall and rebounded late like each player had just dipped their hands in petroleum jelly.
Players of the Game
Fletcher Loyer does not play like a freshman. And I’m sorry, did you see him turning the corner at the top of the key like he was looking for a jumper off a pick but then drove it to the lane for a nasty dunk? He played like a seasoned veteran who truly understands Matt Painter’s offensive philosophy and his own role within it. Loyer finished with 22 points, with a good portion of those buckets coming when the Boilermakers seemingly lost all steam offensively.
Keisei Tominaga shot the Huskers back into making this game a fight when the Boilermakers seemed to control a lead they had built in the waning minutes of the first half. His three pointers cut the lead down quickly, allowing Nebraska to play more calculated basketball and keep he game close. The junior guard out of Moriyama Nagoya Aichi, Japan finished with 19 points, shooting 50% from the field in 26 minutes played.
Hardest Working Player of the Game
I’m going with Zach Edey here given how instrumental his seven blocks and 17 rebounds were in a game that wasn’t the prettiest offensively for either team. Edey registered a whopping 43 minutes as well while staying out of foul trouble and creating issues for the opposition in the paint even from early on in the game. His streak of eight consecutive games with 20 points comes to an end, but his 11/17/7 statline is huge from a center in a lower-scoring game such as this afternoon’s.
Purdue faces off against Davidson in a battle of the Loyers (Fletcher will face his older brother Foster) on December 17th in Indianapolis at 6:15 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on BTN.