Purdue's season came to an end Thursday night in the Big Ten Tournament.
Shavon Shields scored 19 points to lead Nebraska to a 57-55 win over the Boilermakers (15-17, 8-10 Big Ten) in Chicago. D.J. Byrd had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Purdue.
Nebraska started the second half on a 9-0 run to turn a two-point lead into a 39-28 advantage and withstood a late push by the Boilermakers to come away with a surprising victory.
"I thought we really made some strides in the past couple weeks. Especially the start of the second half. We had a tough time getting going. We had a tough time with Shields in the first half, but we just didn't have any awareness to start the second half defensively. We had a couple simple breakdowns and we just weren't sharp," said head coach Matt Painter. "So that's disappointing. You play well, you play good versus some very good competition after struggling most of the Big Ten season, then you come out with a performance like this."
It was 54-53 after Purdue's D.J. Byrd made a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left. Nebraska's Ray Gallegos then made the first free throw and missed the second, but the Cornhuskers recovered the ball.
Ubel then hit the second foul shot after missing the first to make it 56-53 with 28.6 seconds left. Byrd put back a missed 3 by Ronnie Johnson to pull Purdue within one with 13 seconds left.
Gallegos then made 1 of 2 free throws to make it a two-point game. Terone Johnson, who finished with nine points, missed two shots from inside the lane that would have tied the game in the closing seconds.
"Nebraska played pretty well, they knocked down some shots. For us, it was just coming out kind of slow. We had four good possessions coming out in the second half, but then we had four where we turned the ball over or took a bad shot and you can't have those kinds of streaks when you're trying to make a run, especially since we got down early. But, you know, you just got to keep going, I guess," Byrd said.
Purdue shot only 50 percent (7 of 14) from the free throw line in the game.
Nebraska will face No. 10 Ohio State in the quarterfinals, while the Boilermakers head for the offseason.
"Just get motivated for next year. Just got to be better mentally. Stop the ball when we need stops and we've got to be able to score when we need to score," said Ronnie Johnson, who scored 10 points Thursday.
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