CHICAGO – Purdue guard Terone Johnson cut into the middle of the lane and, with a Nebraska defender on him, put up a shot with four seconds to play hoping to send the game to overtime.
The ball bounced right back to him with two seconds left, and he took another crack at tying Thursday night’s opening-round Big Ten tournament game.
Johnson’s second shot suffered the same fate as the first, and No. 10 seed Nebraska defeated No. 7 seed Purdue 57-55 at the United Center in Chicago.
I honestly thought the first one was going to fall, said Johnson, who had nine points and six rebounds.
I thought I got a good spin in the lane. I missed the shot. It just didn’t go down. I kind of got my arm grabbed. After I got the second rebound, I thought I got off another good look. It just didn’t go down for us.
Nebraska guard Shavon Shields didn’t have a problem with shots not going down, especially in the first half. The 6-foot-6 freshman scored a game-high 19 points with 15 coming in the opening half on 6-of-7 shooting.
I was just within the offense curling and things like that and my teammates were screening and finding me open, Shieldssaid.
So if it wasn’t for them screening and getting me open and that and playing as a team, I wouldn’t have got those 19 points.
Shields’ production offset Purdue (15-17) holding Nebraska’s leading scorers Dylan Talley, who averages 14.2 points, and Ray Gallegos, who averages 12.8 points, to five and nine points. The Cornhuskers (15-17), who play No. 2 seed Ohio State at 6:30 p.m. today, also got 16 points and eight rebounds from Brandon Ubel, who missed Purdue’s 65-56 win Jan. 15 at Nebraska.
They came out to play, said Purdue guard Rapheal Davis, a Fort Wayne native who had six points. They just played their hardest. They’ve been coming together of late, same as we have, and they just came out to play.
Purdue started strong, hitting five of its first six shots, but it held only an 11-7 lead with 15:32 to play in the first half. Nebraska, which started 3 of 7 from the field, then scored seven straight to take a 14-11 lead with 12:49 left.
D.J. Byrd hit a free throw to finish a three-point play that gave Purdue a 16-14 lead with 11:22 to play in the half, but the Cornhuskers responded again by scoring the next six points to lead 20-16 with 7:52 left in the half. Nebraska never gave up the lead.
After taking a 30-28 lead into halftime, Nebraska scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 39-28 lead with 16:33 to play.
That 9-0 run, we had to be able to crack down and get some stops and we didn’t, said Byrd, who scored a team-high 15 points.
Byrd did cut Nebraska’s lead to one point three times in the second half, getting the Boilers’ deficit to 48-47 with a three-pointer with 4:11 to play, 54-53 on a three-pointer with 39.1 seconds to play, and 56-55 on a putback with 13.1 seconds to play.
But Purdue, which got 11 points from A.J. Hammons and 10 points from Ronnie Johnson, never got any closer.
We had to battle back. I just thought Nebraska was a step quicker than us most of the night, Purdue coach Matt Painter said. Give them credit. They outplayed us.