The Journal Gazette
Saturday, February 20, 2021 1:00 am

Boilers say they won't take last-place Huskers lightly

Painter expects Williams to have big game today

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Purdue is taking on the Big Ten's last-place team tonight, but the Boilermakers are not looking ahead.

Nebraska, under second-year coach Fred Hoiberg, is just 1-11 in conference play but has played some good basketball recently, taking then-No. 6 Illinois to overtime Feb. 12 before beating Penn State 62-61 on Sunday, the Cornhuskers' first conference victory in 27 games.

The Boilermakers are not expecting an easy victory.

“They're a team that obviously hasn't given up,” Purdue guard Eric Hunter Jr. said of the Cornhuskers. “That Penn State win was their first (Big Ten) win since last year, and for them to keep fighting, that's tough. And you can never underestimate a team like that.”

Purdue (14-8, 9-6 Big Ten) is coming off a 75-65 win over Michigan State in which center Trevion Williams continued a torrid stretch of basketball, scoring 28 points for his third 20-point game in the last four.

Against a team such as Nebraska, which has no one taller than 6-foot-9 in its normal rotation, the Boilers are expecting another big game from their 6-10 star. Coach Matt Painter wants Williams to remain hungry.

“As a coach, when you have talented guys, you have to want more (from them),” Painter said. “We still need more from him. As a player sometimes you look back at the coach like, 'Damn, I'm doing pretty good here.'

“I tell (Williams) all the time, 'Why haven't you gotten 20 rebounds?' Then he looks at me like I'm crazy and he gets 10-12 rebounds. But he has the ability to go to Lincoln, Nebraska, and get 20 rebounds. So why not be special and do that?”

Nebraska (5-14) is led by 6-6 forward Teddy Allen, the Big Ten's sixth-leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. Allen shoots 37.3% from 3-point range, the best of the starters on a team that ranks 258th in the country in 3-point percentage.

The Cornhuskers' game at Mackey Arena, scheduled for Jan. 5, was postponed because of coronavirus cases in the Nebraska program.

That game remains to be rescheduled, and there was some talk of Purdue staying in Lincoln and playing a second game against the Cornhuskers on Sunday, as Nebraska did against Maryland on Tuesday and Wednesday to make up a lost game with the Terrapins.

It's unclear how far those discussions got, but Painter said he would have opposed the idea if he had been asked.

“No, I wasn't going to play back to back like that,” Painter said. “I just didn't think that made sense for us. These games are huge, man. People don't understand how big these games are. Coming down the stretch, no matter who you play or where you play them, all these games mean a lot to helping yourself get seeded for the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully get seeded for the NCAA Tournament.”

See a video

To see Dylan Sinn's video previewing the Purdue-Nebraska game, click on this URL --

Purdue at Nebraska

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Neb.

Records: Purdue (14-8, 9-6 Big Ten), Nebraska (5-14, 1-11)

TV: Big Ten Network

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