CHICAGO – In just a week they went from slumping to sleeper.
Following wins over then No. 17 Wisconsin, a close game against the Michigan and a dominating home win against Minnesota, things appeared to finally be looking up for Purdue after an up-and-down season with a young team. Some even suggested that the Boilermakers could be a darkhorse threat for a run in the Big Ten Tournament.
But as the seventh-seed they first had to take care of business against tenth-seeded Nebraska and that proved to be much easier said than done.
The Cornhuskers took a big second half lead and were able to hold on down the stretch to beat Purdue 57-55 at the United Center Thursday night. The Boilermakers had a number of chances to tie the game in the final seconds but couldn’t get a shot to fall in a late flurry as their record falls to 15-17 record. The Boilermakers are out of consideration for the NCAA and NIT Tournaments but could elect to participate in the CBI Tournament.
Nebraska took a two-point lead into halftime but came out with a strong start to the second half. Brandon Ubel’s layup four minutes into the half gave the Cornhuskers a 41-30 lead.
From then on Purdue would make a rally. DJ Byrd got the lead down to one on a three-pointer with 4:15 to go in the game. Free throws got Nebraska up by six with 2:25 remaining but once again the Boilers started to chip away. A Sandi Marcius lay-up and another three-pointer by Byrd got the lead down to one with 42 seconds left.
Byrd came through again for the Boilers when he got a tip shot to go after a Nebraska free throw to cut the lead to one again with 13 seconds left. Ray Gallegos made one-of-two free throws to give the Boilers a shot at the tie or the win in regulation but Terone Johnson couldn’t get a pair of shots to fall as Purdue’s season came to an end.