PURDUE (14-8, 9-6 B1G) vs. NEBRASKA (5-13, 1-10 B1G)
ABOUT THIS GAME
Purdue and Nebraska meet for the first time this season after the two schools’ first scheduled meeting was postponed due to the Cornhuskers’ COVID-19 issues. That game is still in the process of being rescheduled. In the meantime, Nebraska’s riding out an absolute gauntlet of games brought on by their pause.
This will be Nebraska’s third of four games in the span of seven days, the first two of which were played Tuesday and Wednesday, as far away geographically as possible, at Maryland. The three days between that second Maryland game and this game will be the Huskers’ longest break between games since Feb. 6. Since then, Nebraska has played seven games, all on either two days’, or one day’s, rest.
Purdue’s coming off a 10-point win over struggling Michigan State on Tuesday night.
NUMBERS AND SUCH
* According to VegasInsider.com (Consensus)
The Boilermakers are looking for their 10th Big Ten win, which would exceed last season’s win total in conference play with still four games left in the regular season, including the other Nebraska game that still hasn’t been slotted. … Purdue’s looking to snap a modest two-game road losing streak after narrow setbacks at Maryland and Minnesota. … Purdue’s now 13th in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage at 30.2 percent but took only a season-low-tying 12 vs. Michigan State. The Boilermakers were 6-of-35 from long range during last season’s horror-show loss at Pinnacle Bank Arena. … The Boilermakers’ underlying metrics this season are excellent. They are ranked 21st by KenPom, and are 25th nationally in offensive efficiency and 26th in defensive efficiency.
C — 50 TREVION WILLIAMS (6-10, 265, Junior)
17.7PPG • 9.2 RPG • 2.1 APG • 54% FG
Not only has Williams been one of the best players in the Big Ten, he’s been one of the most consistent. Purdue’s gotten him 42 shots the past two games, and that trend should continue vs. Nebraska, who’ll be hard-pressed to match up with him, as most are. The Cornhuskers are not a bad defensive team, but they are vulnerable in the post.
F — 0 MASON GILLIS (6-6, 230, Redshirt Freshman)
5.3 PPG • 4.0 RPG • 31.3% 3-PT • 85.7% FT
After putting the game away at the foul line by making 8-of-8 against Michigan State in the final 2:43, Gillis is now shooting just under 86 percent from the stripe In Big Ten play. Not bad for a grinder.
G — 2 ERIC HUNTER JR. (6-4, 170, Junior)
9.2 PPG • 27.1% 3-PT • 2.9 APG • 87.9% FT • 15 STL
The past two games for Hunter: 12-of-16 from the floor, averaging 14-and-a-half points per game. His scoring off the bounce and getting to the rim have added another valuable layer to Purdue’s offensive mix. His jumpers are starting to fall, too. As important: He has one turnover between those two games.
G — 5 BRANDON NEWMAN (6-5, 195, Redshirt Freshman)
9.2 PPG • 3.7 RPG • 41.8% 3-PT • 95% FT • 13 STL
Newman struggled offensively against Michigan State, but it didn’t stop him from making a tangible impact at the defensive end, perhaps a sign of growth for him as a player. He was excellent on D, especially late in the game.
G — 23 JADEN IVEY (6-4, 200, Freshman)
8.7 PPG • 3.5 RPG • 2.1 AST
Coming off one of his best all-around games of the season, Ivey has become one of Purdue’s most important and influential players, not just as a scorer. His passing and decision-making were good against Michigan State and he seems to be coming along defensively.
C — 15 ZACH EDEY (7-4, 285, Freshman)
5.9 PPG • 4.2 RPG • 1.3 BLK
Edey’s logged double-digit minutes each of the past three games and averaged nine points, six rebounds and two blocks in just an average of less than 12 minutes per outing.
G — 55 SASHA STEFANOVIC (6-5, 200, Junior)
7.6 PPG • 2.8 RPG • 1.7 APG • 31.5% 3-PT • 87% FT
Stefanovic isn’t himself and his numbers have now slipped to the point they totally distort reality. He’s 0-for-10 from the field since returning from COVID, 0-for-7 from three. The process is ongoing.
G — 11 ISAIAH THOMPSON (6-1, 160, Sophomore)
3.3 PPG • 50% FG • 47.4% 3-PT
His opportunities now being limited, Thompson’s not made a field goal since the game at Maryland. For a team that’s struggled to make shots, maybe a look or two per game for the 47-percent three-point shooter wouldn’t be the worst thing.
F — 1 AARON WHEELER (6-9, 205, Junior)
2.4 PPG • 3.3 RPG
The Michigan State game was just the second all season in which Wheeler didn’t attempt a three-pointer.
G — 25 ETHAN MORTON (6-6, 215, Freshman)
During a first-half stretch in which Purdue seemed to be settling for threes against Michigan State instead of getting the ball inside, Painter called upon Morton. Soon as he came in, he got the ball inside to Zach Edey for an and-one.
C — 4 EMMANUEL DOWUONA (6-10, 245, Sophomore) (O)
Playing basically every other day the past two weeks, Nebraska’s navigating as grueling a schedule as can be imagined from a sheer logistics perspective, but it didn’t stop the Huskers from netting an impressive 62-61 win at Penn State in which they lost a robust lead, then rallied to win at the end on Teddy Allen’s game-winner with 12 seconds left. … Nebraska is last in the Big Ten in scoring at 63.1 points per game and second-to-last in scoring defense, allowing 74.7 points … Their field goal percentage of 39.1 percent is better than only Michigan State and Minnesota, and their effective field goal percentage of 46.2 stands 307th nationally. The Cornhuskers shoot just 45.2 percent on two-point shots (310th nationally) … Nebraska will try to play fast offensively, its average possession length this season, according to KenPom, being 13th lowest in the country at 15.2 seconds, with a top-50 tempo. … Fred Hoiberg’s team doesn’t get to the foul line often and doesn’t block many shots.
BEST GUESS STARTERS
F — 11 LAT MAYEN (6-9, 205, Junior)
8.6 PPG • 4.7 RPG • 34% 3-PT
G — 0 TEDDY ALLEN (6-6, 223, Junior)
17.1 PPG • 5.0 RPG • 37.3% 3-PT
Allen’s a dangerous all-around scorer who can shoot, drive and post, with excellent size. He’ll be Purdue’s primary matchup concern on the defensive end.
G — 45 DALANO BANTON (6-9, 204, Sophomore)
10.8 PPG • 6.5 RPG • 4.6 AST • 1.1 STL
The towering guard — sort of a point forward sort of player — might create some unique matchup issues for Purdue. Banton isn’t a great shooter but he can make open ones, as he did during the back-to-back at Maryland.
G— 2 TREY MCGOWENS (6-4, 191, Junior)
10.1 PPG • 4.0 RPG • 34% 3-PT
Another dangerous and athletic scorer who can shoot threes.
F — 13 DERRICK WALKER (6-8, 232, Junior)
4.5 PPG • 4.0 RPG
G — 10 KOBE WEBSTER (6-0, 172, Senior)
6.8 PPG 34.8% 3-PT
G — 34 THORIR THORBJARNARSON (6-6, 202, Senior)
2.9 PPG • 2.5 RPG
F — 24 YVAN OUEDRAOGO (6-9, 245, Sophomore)
3.7 PPG • 4.1 RPG
PREDICTION: PURDUE 73, NEBRASKA 64
Nebraska’s competing when it has every reason, truth be told, to do no such thing, but the Cornhuskers’ offensive limitations are considerable. Defensively, Nebraska’s not bad, but could get overwhelmed on the interior if it’s not careful. As long as Purdue doesn’t undercut itself with turnovers and bad shots — or leave 20 points at the rim like it did last year in Lincoln — it should enjoy some rare margin for error here.
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