LINCOLN, Neb. – Purdue star Zach Edey was getting double- and triple-teamed whenever he touched the ball in the post, his teammates weren’t shooting particularly well, and Nebraska reserve Keisei Tominaga was hot.
The fourth-ranked Boilermakers still passed this test, beating the Cornhuskers 65-62 in overtime Saturday in their Big Ten road opener.
“Can you can you find a way to win a game when you don’t shoot the ball well? We were able to do that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “But Nebraska deserved to win the game just as much as we did. I thought they were really good.”
Fletcher Loyer scored a season-high 22 points and fellow freshman Braden Smith made four free throws in the last 28 seconds of overtime to give Purdue (10-0, 2-0 Big Ten) two straight wins to open conference play for the first time since 2017-18.
Edey had 11 points and 17 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season, but his quiet afternoon offensively allowed the Cornhuskers (6-5, 0-2) to keep things close throughout.
“There are no moral victories, and there was a lot of dejection in that locker room,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The way they went out and battled, if we do that every night, we’re going to have a chance.”
Purdue shot 30% after halftime and 39.7% for the game. The Huskers shot just 31.9%.
Tominaga was the exception. He had 12 of his 19 points after halftime and finished with four 3s, two coming as he led the Huskers back from a 14-point deficit in the second half and his biggest tying it 56-all with 9.1 seconds left.
The game went to overtime when Loyer was off the mark with a 3 just before the buzzer. Loyer was just 9 of 21 from the field, including 2 of 10 on 3s.
“It was there all night and a few didn’t fall,” he said, “but they kept giving it to me, my teammates kept encouraging me to keep shooting. When they’re handing it to you like that, you’ve got to keep attacking it.”
Tominaga’s lay-up with 14 seconds left in overtime pulled the Huskers to 63-62, but C.J. Wilcher was called for a foul at midcourt and Smith made two free throws to make it a three-point game.
“We knew coming off the bench he was electric,” Loyer said of Tominaga, “and we kind of let him get going. He made a few very tough shots. When they’re on runs like that, you’ve got to contain a shooter like that.”
Nebraska’s Derrick Walker rebounded Sam Griesel’s missed 3 but lost the ball to Smith, securing Purdue’s win.
Walker and Emmanuel Bandoumel added 14 points apiece for the Huskers, and Walker had 10 rebounds.
Walker was the primary defender on the 7-foot-4 Edey, and two or three teammates would converge whenever the big man received an entry pass.
“Our effort allowed us to stay in that game and our guys kept swinging and fighting and battling,” Hoiberg said. “They’re doing it together. That’s what I’m most proud of. Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight.”
Purdue: The Boilermakers had to gut this one out as Edey was held to his lowest point total of the season. Edey also was held to his fewest shots, going 5 for 7, in 43 minutes. He blocked a career-high seven shots.
Nebraska: The Huskers finished a stretch of three games against ranked opponents, nearly beating their highest-ranked opponent since 2011.
New Nebraska football coach Matt Rhule made a halftime appearance to speak to an enthusiastic crowd chanting “Go Big Red!” as he made his way to half-court.
He thanked fans for their support and told them his job is not just another job but a “mission” for him and his staff to return the football program to elite status. He led another round of “Go Big Red!” cheers as he walked off and hugged athletic director Trev Alberts at the tunnel entrance.
Purdue plays Davidson in the Indy Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 17.
Nebraska plays Kansas State in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, Dec. 17.