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Game 14 Preview: #1 Purdue @ Nebraska

On3 imageby:Brian Neubert01/09/24


Post-Illinois — Purdue coach Matt Painter

LINCOLN, Neb. — Top-ranked Purdue, fresh off a big win over No. 9 Illinois, returns to the road to visit Nebraska, a team in position to perhaps contend for an NCAA Tournament berth as the Big Ten continues to sort itself out.

DETAILS: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024 | 9 p.m. ET | TV: Peacock (Jac Collinsworth, Robbie Hummel | Radio: Purdue Radio Network

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• Purdue amended its travel plans slightly, flying to Lincoln earlier in the day Monday, then practicing on site, rather than on campus prior to departure.

• Purdue’s offensive rebounding percentage of 37.1 percent is one of the best in college basketball, buoyed by Zach Edey. But against Illinois, Mason Gillis and Trey Kaufman-Renn dominated the offensive glass more than the numbers even reflected.

• More a point of emphasis than a red flag, per se, but Braden Smith‘s turned the ball over 16 times over the last five games. Limiting turnovers is Purdue’s absolute priority, especially on the road.

• The Illinois game was Kaufman-Renn’s season-high in points (23), shots (12) and minutes (27). He’s also made four of his last six three-point attempts, bringing him to 7-of-14 on the year. Fellow 4 man Mason Gillis shoots 53.3 percent and wing Camden Heide is 8-of-16.

Of Purdue’s seven top scorers who have attempted a three this season, six are shooting 39 percent or better.

• Through four Big Ten games, Lance Jones is shooting 92 percent at the foul line. He was 7-of-7 vs. Illinois.


• Nebraska, per usual, is a different team at home, having lost just once — in blowout form to rival Creighton — at PBA and coming off a decisive win over Indiana. The Cornhuskers also took down Michigan State and Kansas State in Lincoln, along with a litany of buy games, the sorts of games that often were chores in prior years.

The road is a different story, as Nebraska has been on the wrong end of double-digit outcomes at Minnesota and Wisconsin. Of course, that’s not relevant to this game.

Nebraska’s 12-3 start is its best since it joined the Big Ten.

• The Cornhuskers are averaging 75 points in four Big Ten games, 82 at home.

• This is a bit of a more formidable Nebraska team from an offensive-skill perspective. Keisei Tominaga remains in Lincoln, capable of swinging games with his firing at will, but Fred Hoiberg’s getting more from C.J. Wilcher (42 percent from three), but also Charlotte transfer Brice Williams (37 percent), freshman forward Eli Rice (9-of-22) and the coach’s son, Sam Hoiberg (10-of-26).

Nebraska will shoot a lot of threes.

Bradley transfer Rienk Mast isn’t quite Derrick Walker, but he’s a big, 6-10, 250-pound body who averages nine rebounds, makes free throws and actually leads Nebraska in assists. He will step out and shoot threes on high volume, too, which is always a concern for Purdue. He’s 14-of-46 this season.

• Nebraska is a top-20 effective field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting only 44.6 percent on two-point shots.

Those numbers swing hard, though, in Big Ten games, though four games isn’t a ton of data.

Nebraska has generally done a pretty solid job throwing junk defenses at Zach Edey and other Purdue bigs. That doesn’t mean, though, he can’t get his numbers, rebound as he always does and pin a bunch of fouls on Nebraska. The tandem of Edey and Trey Kaufman-Renn could complicate things for the defense.Pretty obvious, but Purdue has shot very well this season, made timely shots and started games well. Whether it’s a relevant stat or not, who knows, but opponents tend to shoot very well against Nebraska.Keisei Tominaga is one of the Big Ten’s premier game-wreckers. Purdue will need to keep him from doing that thing he does where he just starts chucking and winds up making six threes. That means keeping out of transition D and keeping attached to him best it can in the half court.


Purdue knows the perils of Pinnacle Bank Arena well and seems pretty well conditioned to approach these games professionally and not phone in non-marquee games. This isn’t Doormat Nebraska anymore, but the Boilermakers would seem to just have too much.

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