Riding a seven-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s showdown with the Purdue Boilermakers, the Husker faithful were looking for any sort of fight remaining to keep the tourney dreams alive. Unfortunately for those fans, and Tim Miles’ job security, that fight did not last the entire game.
One thing to note, however: it did show up for the first half.
That is how James Palmer Jr. and his underdog-Huskers started the game off. Following a Thorir Thorbjarnarson three-pointer and a Tanner Borchardt fufilled and-one, Nebraska held a four-point lead, eight to four.
But, if you have kept up with any Nebraska game in the last half decade (or even just the two articles I have written), you will know that this team tends to give up a lot of scoring runs. Usually, it’s from offensive ineptitude. This, however, was from miserable three-point defense. The ensuing seven-point Purdue run but them up 11 to eight.
How would the Huskers respond? By rolling with the punches and punching back. Palmer would score four, but it was five straight points from Nana Akenten that would put Nebraska up 19-18.
There was some trading of three-pointers, but, soon, the Boilers stopped trading back, as the Huskers were getting threes when Purdue had to “settle” for layups. Nonetheless, Nebraska leads 28-25 with five minutes left.
A sudden eight-to-one Purdue run was capped off by an Matt Haarms (reminder: he is seven foot, three inches tall) dunk with nine seconds left. Fear not Boilers, your team still has a few more years of eligibility with Matt until you need to find your next seven-footer with two A’s in his last name.
A pair of Palmer free throws would put the Huskers down two at half, 33-31.
Second half started about as good as possible for Isaiah Roby and the Huskers.
We are tied, folks. The reeling Huskers are tied in the second half with one of the hottest teams in the country. Can they do it?
A 14-2 run capped by a Grady Eifert three-pointer (another reminder: he has never went for double figures in the 874 minutes he has logged in his college career) for Purdue answered that question fairly quickly. He would score 16 tonight.
Suddenly down 12, Thomas Allen, who has come off the bench the past two games, went toe-to-toe with the opponent himself. He scored 12 straight Husker points in less than four minutes, outscoring the ten Purdue got in the same time.
A Glynn Watson Jr. three-pointer three minutes late pulled the Huskers within eight points, 55-63 with seven minutes left on the clock. This is when the color commentator would seal the Huskers fate with the following quote:
“This is the best game the Huskers have played in a long time.”
Tony Romo, he is not. The Huskers would score seven more points. The rest of the game. The final seven minutes. That’s a point a minute.
Meanwhile, Carsen Edwards, who scored a “quiet” 27 points, would get seven buckets from free throws in the same time. The rest of Purdue’s team would help him and get nine points.
Math majors in the room can figure out that means the Huskers lost by 19 points. Ouch. What looked like fight from the Huskers, turned into what we have been used to seeing: inept offense that lets down the defense and eventually seems to quit.
The commentator would go on to say: “Purdue will be scared to visit Nebraska after seing this game.”
Yeah, I’d be scared, too.
Final: Huskers 62, Purdue 81