WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue guard Jaden Ivey grabbed a defensive rebound. He raced out in the open court, saw Nebraska's defense had gotten back and pulled up from 3-point range.
The ball ripped through the net to give Purdue a 15-point lead just 5:31 into Friday's clash at Mackey Arena and the Cornhuskers immediately called timeout.
Instead of heading to his bench, Ivey first stood on the opposite side of the court, shouting at the top of his lungs in the direction of the Purdue student section, which roared its approval in return.
“I'm not gonna lie, I came fired up this game,” Ivey said. “Just looking back at the games we lost, the disrespect from everyone, all the outsiders talking this about our team, that we can't do this, can't do that, we don't show up in big games. I was just tired of it.”
Ivey made his point, scoring 17 points, dishing five assists and shutting down star Nebraska guard Bryce McGowens, who finished with nine points in a 92-65 win for the No. 7 Boilermakers in front of an announced sell-out crowd of 14,804.
Purdue center Zach Edey led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting and added nine rebounds. His efficient performance pushed him to 71.3% shooting for the season, leap-frogging Creighton's Ryan Kalkenbrenner (71.0%) for No. 1 in the country.
After Sasha Stefanovic hit a 3 to open the scoring, Edey and Ivey owned the early part of the game, scoring 10 points during a 14-0 Boilermakers run that culminated in Ivey's pull-up 3 for a 17-2 lead. Minutes later, Ivey slammed home a two-handed put-back dunk off a Mason Gillis miss and it was 23-4 Boilermakers (14-2, 3-2 Big Ten) with 12:42 left in the half.
“(Getting off to a good start) was something we really focused on,” Edey said. “The entire season we've always had slow starts, we've gone down early in games, so we wanted to focus on coming out strong today.”
Purdue did that and then held the Cornhuskers at arm's length the rest of the night, never letting them get closer than 12. Edey and Ivey answered a 6-0 Nebraska run with six straight of their own late in the first half and the Boilers led 48-33 at the break.
They put the game away midway through the second half with a 15-2 run that featured a powerful two-handed dunk and a corner 3 from Blackhawk Christian graduate Caleb Furst, who had 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting. An Ivey pull-up jumper capped the spurt and made it 75-45.
The Cornhuskers committed 17 turnovers, which Purdue turned into 28 points. The Boilermakers also held a 21-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“This is as good a team as I've seen,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said of the Boilers. “They're so complete. If you continue to give extra (possessions) to teams like this, you're gonna have a really hard time winning.”