Sasha Stefanovic found his outside touch and buried four bombs in the final eight minutes Saturday to help the Purdue Boilermakers upend the Nebraska Cornhuskers 75-58 on the road. The 18-point triumph assured Matt Painter and the Boilermakers (10-6, 15-8), who sit in fifth place just a half game behind Iowa in the conference standings, that they would once again reach double figures in Big Ten wins.
In a close second half, Stefanovic first made his presence known when he took a pass from Zach Edey and nailed a three ball to put Purdue up 62-53. Then, 35-seconds later, he added another shot from beyond the arc, giving the Boilermakers a 65-53 advantage and their largest lead of the game to that point.
Nebraska (1-12, 5-15), who had played seven contests in a 12-day stretch before getting Thursday and Friday off, pulled within 67-57 on Teddy Allen’s jumper with 4:19 left in the game. Stefanovic then knocked down another pair of trifectas within 24-seconds of each other. The latter gave Purdue a 73-57 advantage with 3:22 left.
Purdue’s Trevion Williams hit a jumper and Shamiel Stevenson added a free throw for Nebraska with 2:26 left to round out the game’s scoring.
Trailing 40-37 at intermission, the Huskers scored the first five points of the second half to go up 42-40 on Thorir Thorbjarnarson’s 3-pointer with 18:44 left in the game. Then the Huskers took their largest lead of the contest when Kobe Webster hit a three of his own with 15:28 left to put Nebraska up 47-44.
Following Allen’s jumper, Nebraska was up three again before Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler scored on a layup and Trevion Williams knocked down a jumper to put the Boilermakers up for good at 50-49 with 12:14 left.
Led by freshman Jaden Ivey’s 13 first half points, Purdue threatened to blow the game open twice in the first half. Nebraska, however, responded each time to stay within striking distance.
Trey McGowens’ jumper three and a half minutes into the contest pulled Nebraska within 6-4 before Edey answered with a jumper of his own. Back-to-back dunks by Ivey and Edey then put Nebraska in a 12-4 hole with 15:30 left in the opening half.
Webster capped an 11-2 spurt for Fred Hoiberg’s Huskers when he drilled a 3-pointer to give Nebraska a 15-14 advantage almost halfway through first half action. The Huskers made three of four shots from beyond the arc in the run, including a pair of bombs by McGowens.
Following a Lat Mayen layup for the Big Red, narrowing the deficit to 29-25, Ivey’s 3-pointer paired with a Williams jumper allowed Matt Painter’s club to take a 34-25 advantage with four minutes left before intermission. Then, with his club leading 35-27, Ivey’s jumper and free throw with 1:53 left in the half put Purdue up by its largest advantage to that point.
The Huskers scored seven straight points on a McGowens free throw and a bomb each by Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Webster. Ivey then slammed home a missed Boilermaker jumper before Thorbjarnarson buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull Nebraska within 40-37.
Ivey led all scorers with 15 points for Purdue and added seven rebounds, three assists, a couple of blocked shots and three steals. Stefanovic finished with 14 points and Brandon Newman added 10 points and seven boards. Williams poured in nine points and blocked a couple of shots for Painter.
Stevenson ripped the cords for a team high 10 points for Nebraska while McGowens, Webster and Thorbjarnarson scored nine points each for Hoiberg. Thorbjarnarson added four assists and a pair of blocked shots and Yvan Ouedraogo pulled down a game high eight rebounds.
After knocking down 7 of 17 shots from beyond the arc in the opening half, Nebraska finished 9 of 28 (32.1%) for the game, just slightly better than Purdue’s 10 of 32 (31.3%) from long range. Purdue shot 30-64 (46.9%) from the field while Nebraska made 22 of 63 (34.9%) field goals. Neither team shot well from the free throw line with Purdue going 5 of 10 (50.0%). Nebraska made just 5 of 14 (35.7%) from the stripe.
Purdue outrebounded Nebraska 48-37 in a game that saw four lead changes and two ties. Purdue outscored Nebraska 36-26 in the paint and 15-13 in points off of turnovers.
Nebraska will resume action on Tuesday, Feb. 23 when it takes on Penn State at 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Purdue, meanwhile, travels to University Park, Pa. to take on the Nittany Lions next Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.