Nebraska will focus on stronger second half vs. Purdue

NCAA Basketball

A troubling trend has plagued Nebraska during the most recent stages of the Cornhuskers’ 21-game losing streak in Big Ten play.

Nebraska has struggled starting the second half of games.

“We got to fix that,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I don’t know what the answer is because it continues to happen. We pull our hair out trying to figure out why it continues to happen.”

The Cornhuskers (4-7, 0-4 Big Ten) will aim to stop their conference slide — and perhaps save some follicles, too — when they visit Purdue on Tuesday night in West Lafayette, Ind.

Nebraska hasn’t won a Big Ten game since Jan. 7, 2020.

“We’ve had too many moral victories,” Nebraska’s Trey McGowens said. “We just got to turn the page.”

To be sure, Nebraska stayed afloat in the early stages of Saturday’s home game against No. 17 Michigan State. They trailed just 40-33 at the break, but the Spartans started the second half on a 12-2 run to go ahead by 17 points. And although the Cornhuskers later slashed the deficit to six, they were unable to produce the stops and clutch shooting to come any closer down the stretch, losing 84-77.

While the Cornhuskers bemoaned committing 18 turnovers and having five shots blocked, there were bright spots just the same. Nebraska shot 9-for-19 from 3-point range after making just 5 of 33 shots from deep in a 36-point loss to Ohio State on Dec. 30.

McGowens scored a season-best 20 points vs. the Spartans, while Teddy Allen led the way with 23 points, cementing his fifth 20-point effort of the season on 10-for-18 shooting.

Purdue (7-5, 2-3 Big Ten) experienced the opposite of the Cornhusker Effect during Saturday’s 66-58 loss at No. 15 Illinois. The Boilermakers opened the second half on a 16-0 run to take a six-point lead before fading in the final minutes.

Purdue shot 22-for-56 (39.3 percent) for the game while committing 14 turnovers.

“We just don’t have the offensive flow yet,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. “When you have consistent play, you always want the coach to have the answer. You have to earn the right to win those games. You have to play better.”

Trevion Williams and Brandon Newman each scored 14 points for Purdue. Williams narrowly missed a double-double, snagging a team-high eight rebounds.

Purdue is 5-0 at home this season and has won seven of the past 10 matchups against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, though, won the last meeting 70-56 on Dec. 15, 2019.

–Field Level Media

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