GAME NOTES: Pitted against each other for the second time in as many years,
the Nebraska Cornhuskers go up against the Purdue Boilermakers in the opening
round of the 16th annual Big Ten Conference Tournament at the United Center in
Chicago on Thursday.
Last year, the first for the Huskers in the conference, the teams also
collided in the postseason, with Purdue producing a 79-61 triumph in
Speaking of the Boilermakers, the seventh seed in this year's tournament,
they've won the event just once with a 65-61 decision over Ohio State back in
2009, the first time the team was even in the championship round since losing
to Michigan in the first-ever tourney back in 1998.
In terms of the 2012-13 regular-season, not since the middle of January have
the Boilermakers won back-to-back decisions, taking out Penn State and this
same Nebraska squad. More recently the team delivered an 89-73 win versus
Minnesota at home over the weekend, giving the group an 8-10 conference mark.
As for the 10th-seeded Cornhuskers, previously members of the Big 12
Conference before coming over in advance of the 2011-12 campaign, they started
off this regular season well enough with six wins in seven tries, but once the
conference schedule kicked into high gear Nebraska was lost. Overall, the team
posted a 5-13 league mark, with two of those wins coming against Penn State
which finished all alone at the bottom of the standings.
Purdue owns a 9-2 record all-time versus the Huskers, dating back to 1948. The
most recent clash took place in Lincoln in the middle of January where the
Boilermakers came up with a 65-56 win, their fifth in a row in the series.
The winner this time around will continue in the tournament and face second-
seeded Ohio State in the quarterfinals on Friday evening.
In conference play this season the Huskers had very little success as they
generated a mere 56.3 ppg while shooting 38.2 percent from the floor. Dylan
Talley was the top scorer with 14.4 ppg and Ray Gallegos checked in with 12.6
ppg which made sense since they were the only two to start all 18 conference
outings. However, both shot under 39.0 percent from the floor, the latter
coming in at a mere 33.2 percent. Brandon Ubel (9.6 ppg) and Shavon Shields
(9.2 ppg) managed to throw their weight around in the paint in order to
combine for close to 13 rpg, but the team overall was still beaten on the
glass by an average of 7.5 rpg.
The Boilermakers had three players start every conference game this season,
but still the program experienced only marginal success against the rest of
the Big Ten. Terone Johnson topped the scoring chart for the squad with his
14.2 ppg, while A.J. Hammons chipped in with another 11.4 ppg while also
leading the way on the glass with better than six and a half rebounds per
game. A force in the paint for sure, Hammons also logged 42 of the unit's 82
blocked shots which is something the Huskers need to keep in mind. Also
putting up double figures in conference were Ronnie Johnson and D.J. Byrd with
10.3 and 10.1 ppg, respectively, the latter responsible for 46 of the team's
Obviously Nebraska would prefer to keep the scoring to a minimum, but if the
Boilermakers have anything to say about the pace, the Huskers could be out of
the running rather early.