by Ryan Berry & Andrew Atchison | staff writers
Despite playing sloppily for a large portion of Sunday afternoon’s game, the Purdue men’s basketball team came away victorious after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 66-54. Purdue has now won two in a row and six of its last seven games, only dropping a tight contest at Minnesota. As a result of this late season push, Purdue is right back in the conversation for an NCAA tournament bid.
The Cornhuskers (13-12, 5-8 Big Ten) have now lost three in a row and five of their last six.
Freshman Vince Edwards led the way for Purdue in scoring with 15 points. Boilermaker sophomore guard Kendall Stephens halted a recent shooting slump by shooting 4-7 from three point range totaling 12 points off the bench. Anchoring the defense again for the Boilermakers was junior center A.J. Hammons, who blocked a shot and pulled down 12 rebounds. Freshman Dakota Mathias and senior Jon Octeus also played crucial roles in Purdue’s win. Mathias added ten points for Purdue, all in the second half of action.
Nebraska guard Shavon Shields contributed 19 points and three rebounds in a losing effort.
After struggling out of the gate, Purdue found itself down 8-2 at the first media timeout. From there, the Boilermakers (17-9, 9-4 Big Ten) used stout defense to climb back into the game.
Both teams struggled on offense through most of the first half before Purdue opened up a six point margin to lead at halftime, 26-20.
In the second half of play, Dakota Mathias made timely shots for Purdue, helping the Boilermakers take control of the game with a double digit lead. However, they struggled to put the Cornhuskers away.
Along with Shavon Shields, Nebraska used scoring surges from Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford to cut the Purdue lead down to just seven points. In response, Purdue countered the Cornhusker rally by going on an 8-0 run of its own, culminating with a Dakota Mathias three pointer that sealed a Purdue victory.
The win helped Purdue keep pace with Maryland for second place in the Big Ten Conference standings. The Boilermakers trail the Wisconsin Badgers by 2 and a half games for the top spot in the conference with five games remaining. With only two home games remaining, Purdue hopes to capitalize on its recent success and gain a coveted spot in the men’s NCAA tournament.
The Boilermakers will rekindle their rivalry with the Indiana Hoosiers Thursday night at 7pm eastern time at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.