OK, so the result was eminently predictable: Purdue 81, Nebraska 62. But the reeling Huskers actually played well for much of Saturday night's game at notoriously loud Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Three quick thoughts:
1. Nebraska head coach Tim Miles had his team ready to play. We mention that off the top because the Huskers have now lost seven straight games and nine of their last 11. But anyone who suggests Miles' players have checked out mentally didn't see this game. The Huskers led 25-21 with seven minutes left in the first half, essentially "putting Purdue on notice that it's not going to be easy tonight," BTN analyst Jon Crispin told the viewing audience. Glynn Watson's three-pointer -- his lone field goal of the night -- pulled Nebraska to 63-55 with 6:53 remaining.
Of course, 15th-ranked Purdue (17-6, 10-2 Big Ten) was too deep and too multi-faceted for Nebraska (13-11, 3-10) to overcome. The Boilermakers won the rebounding battle 39-24, helping pave the way to their eighth straight triumph. Mackey Arena was packed to the rafters and the crowd was into it. But the Huskers never seemed rattled; they simply couldn't get enough stops in the second half. I think they could actually glean confidence from this game.
2. This just in: Carsen Edwards is superb. The hard-driving Purdue junior guard obviously is a scorer. He poured in 27 points against Nebraska even though he was only 2-for-8 from three-point territory. The Huskers were effective at running him off the three-point line, but he is so explosive driving to the basket and finishing the job. Plus, as Crispin noted, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Texas native has excellent balance, which helps explain why he is such a good free-throw shooter. He was 9-for-9 on the night to raise his season percentage to 86.7. Did we mention his explosiveness? With 4:30 left in the game, 6-foot-8 Tanner Borchardt made a strong move to the basket, but was rejected at the rim by the high-flying Edwards. He's just such a relentless player. He never allows opponents to relax.
3. Nebraska sophomore guard Thomas Allen apparently likes Mackey Arena's shooting background. He was 6-for-9 from the field, including 5-for-6 from deep, and finished with a team-high 18 points, tying a career high. He was the impetus to the Huskers making their most three-pointers (10-for-24) since sinking 11 against Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 29. Nebraska shot 38.2 percent overall (21-for-55), which considering its debilitating offensive struggles of late seemed strangely acceptable. Purdue is known for strong half-court defense, but this Boilermaker team is pretty ordinary in that regard.
The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee released its top 16 in-season seeds Saturday, with Purdue drawing a No. 3 seed in the South Region as the No. 9 overall seed. There's a lot to like about Matt Painter's squad. It's very balanced. Edwards wreaks havoc. But I could see the Boilermakers' defense -- it allows foes to shoot 36.5 percent from deep, 13th in the Big Ten -- keeping them from advancing past the Sweet 16. Their stats on that end of the floor aren't great at all. We saw a little bit of why in this game.