The Purdue Boilermakers ran in to a buzz saw inside Pinnacle Bank Arena with the Nebraska Cornhuskers shooting an incredibly 60% from behind the arc and torching the nets for an 88-72 victory over the #1 ranked Boilers. A surprise performance from the Cornhuskers showed how good they can be when they are firing on all cylinders for a complete game as they dominated from the outset and never truly felt threatened, even when down by 6 points in the first half.
The Boilers just seemed befuddled and lost on defense as they tried to adjust to a team scorching the nets from deep while also being unable to generate good looks for themselves on the interior. The Boilers were only able to score 20 points in the paint while Nebraska was able to generate 28 of their own points in that same regard while also getting 14 turnovers from a Purdue team that cost them 18 total points.
It wasn’t a great game from the Boilers but they still shot 39% from behind the arc and out rebounded the home team. It was simply a game that the Cornhuskers played a better overall game than what Purdue did and when that happens, you are going to get beat. No shame in simply getting beat by the better team on a certain night, especially when winning road games in the B1G is incredibly hard (Purdue now holds a 13-11 record over the last three years in true road games). Tip your hat. Watch the film. Get better. Move on.
Let’s review with ‘The Rebound!’
1 | Don’t Let Tominaga Get Clean Looks
Well, let’s be honest here, Tominaga didn’t have a lot of really clean looks. His threes were largely contested but the issue was Purdue closed out on shooters too often with their hands low and not closing enough space. When Tominaga has hit two or three deep shots in a row, he is a guy who can suddenly hit four or five and his leadership buoys his teammates confidence as well.
In the end, Tominaga went 5-9 from behind the arc but just 5-12 from the field. The issue is that Purdue should have continued to run him off the three point arc and force him into mid range jump shots and floaters and they just were not effective in that regard.
Can’t give the Boilers a good grade here because they often allowed Tominaga to get the shots off that he seems to thrive in and once he starts hitting those shots and pumping his fists, it gets his teammates going. Overall, seven different Cornhuskers hit three pointers, none more than Tominaga’s five.
2 | Continue to Get Production from the Power Forward Position
This was a bit of a struggle against Nebraska as Mason Gillis really helped Purdue right itself in the first half as he scored 13 points on 4-8 shooting from behind the arc, but he struggled in the second half to get enough shots for himself to remain effective (1-3 overall).
On the flipside, Trey Kaufman-Renn failed to take any shots against Nebraska and was largely ineffective on the defensive end. He was so ineffective against the Cornhuskers that he was benched to start the second half and only played 4 total minutes (Loyer was also benched to start the second half and played 7 minutes). Both players were a -25 in the +/- for the game. When Purdue isn’t getting effective play from the power forward position, teams will simply use their power forward to shadow Edey in the post to prevent him from being effective. That simply can’t happen moving forward.
This was not a great game for the power forwards after a number of really strong games from both of those players. It may have been best to pair Edey and Furst or even Furst and Gillis more against Nebraska but hindsight is always 20/20. If TKR and Gillis play more like they had in the several games leading up to this one, it may have changed the way Nebraska wanted to defend Purdue.
3 | Feed’y the Edey
This was probably one of the worst aspects of the game for Purdue other than the poor turnovers. There should really never be a game this season where Edey or Smith aren’t the ones taking the most shots for the Boilers. Against Nebraska, Gillis and Jones each took 12 shots with the pair combining for 9-24 (37.5%) while Edey had just 10 shot attempts and hit 6 of them. In fact, Purdue had a great 1.56 points per possession when they shot at the rim which means Purdue wasted a great area of scoring against the Cornhuskers. Purdue is typically using shots at the rim 32% of the time for 1.22 points per possession but used it just 13% of the time for 1.56 points per possession. For shots behind the arc, they used 46% of their possessions shooting behind the arc for 1.18 points per possession versus just 26% prior for 1.19 points per possession.
Where Purdue really hurt themselves is taking 21% of their shots from the midrange where they scored just .53 points per possession versus 14% usage and .83 in all other games. This is typically what Purdue wants to do to their opponents, forcing them into midrange jump shots and floaters that are the lowest percentage of shooting in the college game. It takes the ball out of Edey’s strong position and makes him more ineffective in rebounding as well.
Purdue allowed Nebraska to dictate what it was going to do on the offensive end by forcing Purdue into more threes and more midrange jump shots than what they had taken all year. That forced players like Gillis and Jones into taking more shots and they just didn’t deliver. Purdue needed to force the ball into Edey to get him opportunities, especially as Nebraska kept hitting shots. Instead, Purdue lost composure and the fight to get to down just 1 went away with poor shot selections away from Edey.
And 1 | Limit the Turnovers
Another really poor aspect of Purdue’s game against Nebraska and many probably saw this was going to be a problem on the first possession Purdue had. After winning the tip, Braden Smith dribbled into the half court and threw it to the ghost of John Wooden. That turnover led to a Rieck Mast three on the other end and Nebraska was able to jump to an 8-2 lead and the Cornhuskers had established what type of game it was going to be. Purdue never truly regained control of the game.
Against a team that only forces 11 turnovers per game got 18 points off 14 turnovers. That just can’t happen for the Boilers, especially on the road. Purdue can live with Edey and Smith having 2 to 4 turnovers a piece because of the weight they carry but Loyer (3) and Jones (4) shouldn’t be having half of your team’s turnovers unless they have less than 8 on the game. In fact, it was only the starters who had turnovers against the Cornhuskers so blame lays directly at their feet alone.
This was just a poor job by the guys who shouldn’t be turning the ball over costing Purdue on both ends of the floor. As Coach Painter has said multiple times this season, they can live with some turnovers but guys who don’t have the ball in their hands a bunch shouldn’t be costing Purdue. This was one of the games where it really hurt Purdue.
Overall Grade: D
This was just a poor game overall for Purdue but it really had more to do with Nebraska playing well rather than Purdue playing extremely poorly. This same exact game has gotten Purdue a lot of wins over the course of the last three seasons because their defense carried them or they lucked into a poor shooting night from their opponent. This happens to have been a game where the opponent played up to their potential and Purdue played below what should be their median.
Player of the Game:
Has to go to Edey again here for his 15 point, 7 rebound, and 2 block game as he went 6-10 from the field. His teammates have got to get him the ball more to make it tough on the opponents from a consistent basis. He is probably the most dependent player in the country in regards to his teammates helping to set him up to score but he didn’t get enough help from their against the Cornhuskers.
Play (s) of the Game:
Purdue had drawn to just one with 13:51 remaining in the second half after Braden Smith had hit a three. Purdue followed that up giving up a three to Allick (down 4), Edey hitting a turn around (down 2), fouling a three point attempt from Wilcher who hit all three free throws (down 5), a missed Lance Jones heat check, another Wilcher three pointer (down 8), a Loyer turnover and Hoiberg fast break layup (down 10), and an Edey turnover that led to another Wilcher three pointer (down 13). That all happened in the span of about 90 seconds of game time and was a microcosm of the entire game.
In fact, Purdue was outscored on runs of 22-5, 14-2, and 20-10 at different times of the game for a total of 56-17 and happened over the course of just 15:56 of the game. Purdue gave up big runs in long stretches which is something that hadn’t really happened all season.