WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Purdue’s outside shots stopped falling Saturday, the Boilermakers went retro.
They drove the lane, fed the post and relied on some good, old-fashioned defense. It’s a combination that still works in today’s up-tempo basketball world.
Vincent Edwards finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Isaac Haas added 14 points to help No. 13 Purdue roll past Nebraska 74-62 for its 11th consecutive victory.
“Just playing hard, that’s all it really is,” Edwards said. “When you play hard it gets contagious and that gets everyone else going and that gets the crowd involved, too. It’s just having the extra effort.”
Edwards wasted no time showing everyone what he and the Boilermakers (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten) are capable of.
And while they might not have racked up style points, Purdue finished the job — again.
The Boilermakers have won 18 consecutive home games overall and 10 straight at Mackey Arena against conference foes. This time they won despite failing to score 80 points for the first time in seven games and despite failing to make 10 3s for the first time in four games.
But coach Matt Painter liked the way his team stood up to the challenge.
“They put us in a bind at times and, obviously, we put them in a bind at times, too,” he said. “Today, this was there for the taking. They just needed to get us into a two- or three-possession game and they never really did. It was always a four- or five-possession game.”
Purdue’s defense made sure of it.
The Boilermakers had a 19-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
“I can understand if we lose on second-chance points to them,” coach Tim Miles said. “But points off turnovers killed us. That killed us.”
A slow start for Nebraska (11-6, 2-2) made things even tougher.
Edwards’ initial scoring flurry gave the Boilermakers a 10-2 lead less than three minutes into the game. Purdue extended the lead to 27-12 with 10:46 to go in the first half, and the Cornhuskers spent the rest of the game futilely playing catch-up.
Nebraska got within seven points three times before halftime, but Dakota Mathias’ 3 sent Purdue to the locker room with a 41-31 edge.
The Cornhuskers never got closer than nine again and Purdue sealed the win with an 11-3 run that made it a 17-point game with 5:46 to go.
James Palmer Jr. scored 22 points to lead the Cornhuskers and Isaac Copeland had 16.
Nebraska: At home, the Cornhuskers have shown they can play with anyone. On the road, they still have a ways to go. Despite an impressive win Tuesday at Northwestern, Nebraska’s other two conference road games resulted in a 29-point loss at Michigan State on Dec. 3 and Saturday’s 12-point loss, in which they shot 40.7 percent from the field.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have been rolling through the Big Ten. Now they face more challenging tests. If Purdue is still unbeaten in conference play after visiting Michigan and Minnesota next week and hosting Wisconsin on Jan. 16, it would be in prime position to be playing for a second straight Big Ten crown. That certainly is doable.
Nebraska: Glynn Watson Jr. had seven points and six rebounds. … The Cornhuskers held their first three conference opponents to 36 percent shooting before Purdue shot 44.3 percent. … Nebraska was 6 of 17 on 3s and got outrebounded 39-30. … The Cornhuskers had only one block, after averaging 6.1, and had their lowest point total since an 86-57 loss to Michigan State on Dec. 3.
Purdue: Has won Big Ten titles six of the previous 12 times it started 4-0 in conference play. … The Boilermakers are 14-0 on American soil. Both of their losses came in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas … Purdue’s school record streak of 30-point wins ended at three. … Haas grabbed six rebounds while Mathias scored 11 points and had four steals. … The Boilermakers were 6 of 21 on 3s.
Nebraska: Returns home to face Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Purdue: Heads to Michigan on Tuesday.
More AP College Basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org