Hammons, Edwards lead Purdue in 81-62 victory over Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. — Purdue presents challenges for any opponent, especially an undersized one like Nebraska.
The 15th-ranked Boilermakers’ big men had their way with the Cornhuskers for the second time this season, and when they couldn’t find their shot, the men on the perimeter were there to score in an 81-62 victory Tuesday night.
Vince Edwards led Purdue with 20 points, and A.J. Hammons had 12 of his 16 in the second half. The Boilermakers (23-7, 11-6) followed a home win over Maryland with their first victory in four road games and moved into a tie with Ohio State for sixth in the Big Ten.
"We’re trying to get our p’s and q’s down, and it felt like it was a while since we won the road," Purdue’s Dakota Mathias said. "We want to keep it going. It’s good for our confidence as we’re getting into March."
The Cornhuskers (14-16, 6-11) lost their fourth straight, with Shavon Shields scoring a season-high 32 points on his senior night.
Purdue used its superior height to dunk eight times and outscore the Huskers 40-28 in the paint. The Boilermakers shot 65 percent in the second half to pull away. Nebraska was within 52-44 with 12 minutes left before the third of Hammons’ five dunks started a 10-2 run that put Purdue up 60-46.
The Boilermakers won the teams’ first meeting 89-74 on Jan. 30, with their centers combining for 45 points. The 7-foot Hammons had a season-high 32 in that game, 7-2 reserve Isaac Haas had 13 and the Boilermakers dunked seven times.
On Tuesday, Hammons picked up a couple of quick fouls and was limited to 6 minutes in the first half. Haas had all eight of his points in the first half and played only 2 minutes in the second.
Purdue, shooting 36 percent for the season from 3-point range, got two 3s apiece from Edwards, Mathias and Ryan Cline and finished 7 of 15 from beyond the arc.
"We don’t need to be a high-volume 3-point shooting team," Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. "We need to probe the defense, move the basketball, drive the ball some, take some 3s, hit some intermediate shots. But our bread and butter is posting up and getting the ball inside."
Nebraska mixed zone and man-to-man defenses against a Purdue team that shot 57 percent for the game. But the size was too much for the Huskers.
"It’s pretty overwhelming," Nebraska’s Tai Webster said. "We try to put an emphasis on guarding them inside and throwing different looks at them, and then it leads to stuff like open 3s for them. Yeah, it’s pretty tough."
The Boilermakers opened an early 21-point lead and looked as if they would make this one a runaway. Edwards drilled consecutive 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 12 first-half points during a 23-4 run that made it 30-9.
But Shields scored the first seven points and 15 in all during a 24-11 spurt that cut it to 41-33 at halftime.
"He made a couple tough ones," Painter said. "You want to try to keep him in front of you and make him score over you. He did a good job keeping (Rapheal Davis) on his hip and making that floater he’s known for."
Purdue: The Boilermakers won in Lincoln for first time since 2012-13. … Purdue has won 37 of last 38 games when attempting more free throws than the opponent. … Hammons has scored 10 or more points in 11 straight games.
Nebraska: Shields and Benny Parker, who has played in all 126 games in his career, were honored during a Senior Night ceremony before the game. … Shields has scored in double figures in 12 straight games, the longest stretch of his career.
SHIELDS ONE-MAN SHOW
Shields has played two of his best games since returning from a concussion. After scoring 25 points in a loss at Penn State last Thursday, he had a season-high 32 against Purdue on his senior night.
"I really don’t care about it because we didn’t win," he said. "That’s all I’ve got to say about it."
Shields used a wide variety of moves to score and finished 11 of 19 from the field and 8 of 8 on free throws.
"He’s real crafty and knows how to get his shot off," Edwards said. "He can drive left or right, and he’s a heady player. He fought back and made it a close game at the end of the first half and start of the second half."
Purdue hosts Wisconsin on Sunday.