GAME NOTES: With both teams still trying for their first Big Ten Conference victory of the season, the Purdue Boilermakers will play host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Mackey Arena on Sunday afternoon.
After an impressive 8-3 start to the season, Nebraska has been trending in the wrong direction fast in recent weeks with four consecutive losses. The Cornhuskers most recently fought hard at home against Michigan but ultimately fell on the wrong end of a 71-70 decision to dip to 0-3 in the Big Ten. They are also 0-4 on the road.
Purdue has also began league play in winless fashion, losing to nationally- ranked Ohio State at home on New Year's Eve (78-69) and following that up with an 82-79 setback at Minnesota last Sunday. Their last two losses aside, the Boilermakers have still been largely impressive this season at 10-5 overall, including 8-1 at Mackey Arena.
The Cornhuskers defeated Purdue in last season's Big Ten Tournament, 57-55, to snap a five-game losing streak in the series. The Boilermakers still hold a 9-3 advantage over Nebraska all time.
In a game that consisted of 10 ties and 11 lead changes, Nebraska ultimately couldn't hang on against Michigan as it dropped the heartbreaking one-point contest. It shot an impressive 53.1 percent from the field on the evening, but it could not keep pace with the Wolverines' 62-percent showing. Terran Petteway scored a team-high 16 points but was also a detriment to his team with six turnovers. Ray Gallegos and Deverell Biggs both scored 14 points and Walter Pitchford rounded out the balanced effort with 12 points.
The Cornhuskers have a rather modest offensive attack on the season, as they shoots just 43 percent from the field for 69.7 ppg, but they are able to remain competitive thanks to a solid scoring defense, which allows just 68.1 ppg. They also usually take care of the ball, committing less than 11 turnovers per game for a +2.3 margin. Petteway is the leading scorer with 17.2 ppg and have been fantastic from the free-throw line (.861). Shavon Shields (11.3 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, but Gallegos, Pitchford and Biggs all contribute between 8.2 and 9.9 ppg.
The Boilermakers found themselves down by as many as 18 points with under 10 minutes to play in their most recent contest, but while they used a furious run to bring their deficit to a single possession in the final minute, they could not complete the comeback. They were outshot from the field by the Golden Gophers, 52.2 percent to 39.7 percent, but they made the game interesting with strong showings from 3-point range (9-of-21) and the foul line (20-of-28). Terone Johnson shot just 5-of-15 from the field but still finished with a game-high 17 points. Ronnie Johnson tallied 12 points and seven assists, while Sterling Carter came off the bench to net 10.
Purdue's offensive production this season has been stellar, as it shoots 44.8 percent from the field (including 35.3 percent from beyond the arc) for 77.8 ppg, which is 6.5 ppg more than it allows. Positive margins in both the rebounding (+3.1) and turnover (+1.8) battles also play a big part in its impressive record. Terone Johnson leads the team with 14.2 ppg, shooting 21- of-51 from long distance (.412). Ronnie Johnson (11.2 ppg, 3.9 apg) is the only other player to average in double figures, but the team has a deep bench with a total of 10 players adding at least 4.5 ppg to the cause.
In a matchup between otherwise evenly-matched teams, the edge has to go to Purdue playing in its home building, considering its great success at Mackey Arena as well as Nebraska's futility on the road.
Game Date and Time