A big surge by Purdue midway through the first half proved to be too much to overcome for Nebraska in a 79-61 loss at its first-ever game in the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Senior guard Bo Spencer paced the Huskers with 22 points, including 14 before halftime. It was Spencer's 23rd double-figure scoring game of the season, including nine games of 20 or more points. Spencer connected on 7-of-16 field goals, including 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Toney McCray and Dylan Talley also reached double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the game.
Nebraska got off to a strong start, jumping to a 12-8 lead at the 14:40 mark of the first half, but the Huskers then went through a scoring drought of nearly eight minutes. Purdue went on a 17-0 run in the same time span to take a 13-point advantage with just less than seven minutes remaining before halftime.
Purdue never trailed after that point in the contest, but Nebraska continued to battle the Boilermakers throughout, moving as close as four points early in the second half. The Huskers trailed by 12 points at 37-25 with 1:12 left in the first half, but scored six of the final eight points before intermission to slice the halftime margin to 39-31.
NU scored the first four points after halftime to move within four at 39-35, and remained within six points with 15 minutes remaining. However, the Huskers could get no closer as Purdue continued to blister the nets from three-point range, and put the contest out of reach with a 10-0 run to take a 67-48 lead.
The Boilermakers hit 13 three-pointers in a February victory over Nebraska in West Lafayette, and connected on 13-of-25 on Thursday, including eight in the first half. Purdue shot 56 percent overall for the game (28-of-50).
For the game, Nebraska connected on 41.5 percent of its field goal attempts (22-of-53) and made 8-of-27 three-pointers. The Huskers also made 9-of-10 from the free throw line, including their first eight attempts of the night. Nebraska came into the game after making all 12 of its free-throw attempts last Saturday in its regular-season finale at Minnesota.
Purdue also out-rebounded the Huskers, 33-25, while both teams took good care of the basketball committing a combined 18 turnovers, including only eight by the Huskers.
With the loss, Nebraska completed its 2011-12 season with a 12-18 record. Thursday's loss was the final game in a Husker uniform for seniors McCray, Spencer, Brandon Richardson, and Caleb Walker.
With the victory, Purdue (21-11, 10-8) advances to face third-seeded Ohio State in Friday evening's quarterfinals. Tipoff for the contest is set for approximately 8 p.m. (CST) with BTN providing the television coverage.
*-Nebraska finishes its first season in the Big Ten with a 12-18 record.
*-Nebraska falls to 2-8 all-time against Purdue and has lost the last four meetings with Purdue.
*-The Huskers fall to 16-35 all-time in conference tournaments dating back to the Big Eight Conference
*-The Huskers wore throwback jerseys honoring the 1949-50 team that went 16-7 and shared the Big Seven regular season title, NU's last regular-season conference title
*-Bo Spencer picked up his ninth 20-point game of the season with a team-high 22 points against Purdue. It is the second time this season Spencer has had consecutive 20-point games (also USC and Rhode Island in November). He now has 23 career 20-point games.
*-Nebraska had made 20 consecutive free throws over the last two games until Caleb Walker's miss in the second half.
*-Purdue's 17-0 run is the largest run by a Husker opponent this year. The previous high was 13 done on four previous occasions, most recently at Minnesota on March 3.
*-Nebraska finished the year with 194 3-pointers, tying for seventh in school history
*-Nebraska went 9-for-10 against Purdue and finished the year with a school record .767 percentage (335-437), breaking the mark of .765 set in 1967-68. The Huskers shot 91 percent in the final five games of the season.
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations