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January 16, 2013
Listen: Coach Matt Painter | D.J. Byrd | Ronnie Johnson | Terone Johnson
PDF: Purdue-Nebraska Box Score
It looked like it was going to be easy.
After Purdue opened the second half of its 65-56 win at Nebraska Wednesday night on a 13-2 run - giving it a 20-point lead - it looked like the Boilermakers were going to coast as they got their heads back above .500.
A team that's struggled to play with leads this season did again. Once Purdue got up big, Nebraska pieced together a 17-3 run via offensive rebounds and Boilermaker turnovers to make it a new game.
That's when Purdue's upperclassmen saved it.
D.J. Byrd, who was 0-for-5 from three-point range in the first half, made four in the second half, three at particularly tight moments with Purdue up either five or six And the one he missed in such a situation, he pursued the rebound and tipped it to a teammate for a lay-in. He scored all 12 of his points after halftime.
"In the first half I thought I got good looks," Byrd said. "They felt good, but they just weren't going down. In the second, I just had to relax and keep shooting good shots and luckily I got a couple to fall."
Terone Johnson, meanwhile, scored a game-high 18, the final three on an and-one that pushed Purdue's lead back to double digits with just three minutes left, for all intents and purposes sealing the win.
"It was the time of the game where our veterans definitely thought we had to step up," Terone Johnson said. "Big A.J. and my brother brought us out in the first half, and I felt like we (veterans) finished the game well."
The upperclassmen were complemented again by the Boilermakers' two dynamic rookies, as center A.J. Hammons scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked six shots and point guard Ronnie Johnson added 10 points and a half dozen assists.
The Boilermakers blew out Nebraska through the game's first 25 minutes or so by establishing Hammons inside; outplaying Nebraska in the post; and dominating the defensive glass while generating stops.
The Cornhuskers, however, got back in the game by crashing the offensive glass for put-backs; benefiting from careless Purdue turnovers; and protecting the basketball themselves.
Additionally, Nebraska played small and zoned Purdue in the second half and made it difficult for the Boilermakers to involve Hammons.
"I didn't think we did a good job showing patience at that time," Coach Matt Painter said. "They put (David) Rivers on Hammons and he did a good job battling him and they gave weak-side help. We just didn't do a good job putting him in positions to score the ball or just play through him and let him pass out to generate some offense."
Nebraska set a school record by turning the ball over just twice, one of several statistical anamolies in a game that despite the tense moments of the second half was relatively one-sided.
Thirty-two percent of Nebraska's scoring, 18 points, came off Purdue's 12 turnovers, a respectable number by Boilermaker standards this season. Also, another 16 points came off 14 offensive rebounds.
More than half the hosts' scoring came off those two categories, keeping Nebraska afloat while it made just a third of its shots and got drilled on the glass, 47-36.
But Nebraska, which finished the first half missing 23 of its final 27 shots, didn't start scoring until it was down big, buying Purdue enough time to ride its cushion - and the big plays made by its two veterans - to its second consecutive win.
"There were a lot of runs in the game," Painter said. "We were pretty good in stretches and they were pretty good in stretches. When it comes down to it, being able to get off to such a good start in the second half was really important to us, because when they made their run, we had such a significant lead and they couldn't get it to where it was two possessions."
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