By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Carsen Edwards scored 27 points and Grady Eifert added a season-high 16 as No. 15 Purdue rebounded from a lackluster first half Saturday night to pull away for an 81-62 victory over Nebraska.
The Boilermakers (17-6, 10-2 Big Ten) have won eight straight overall and 14 in a row at home.
Thomas Allen made five 3-pointers and matched his season-best with 18 points to lead the Cornhuskers (13-11, 3-10). James Palmer Jr. finished with 17 points for Nebraska, which has lost seven straight including all four since losing Isaac Copeland on Jan. 26 with a torn ACL in his left knee.
All Purdue needed to take control was one quick flurry early in the second half.
Ryan Cline started it with a 3-pointer. Eifert’s steal which led to Nojel Eastern’s layup and Eifert and Cline capped the 11-3 run with 3s that gave Purdue a 50-38 lead with 13:41 left.
Nebraska only got as close as eight the rest of the way.
But the game sure didn’t follow the expected script.
After going nearly a full week between games, the Boilermakers looked sluggish early and the Cornhuskers took advantage. When Palmer knocked down a 3-pointer with 7 minutes left in the first half, Nebraska led 25-21 with 7 minutes to go.
That’s when Purdue cranked up the defensive intensity.
It allowed just one basket the rest of the half, got a few baskets in transition and closed the half on an 8-3 run to take a 33-31 halftime lead.
Nebraska: Clearly, the Cornhuskers aren’t the same without Copeland – and their tailspin in his absence shows no sign of abating. Yes, they played hard and managed to hang around against a Big Ten contender Saturday. But when the Boilermakers started making baskets, the Cornhuskers simply couldn’t keep up.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have been unbeatable at home this season. But on Saturday, they showed the crowd something else – they can win with grit. Purdue escaped the early struggles by doing the things it has traditionally done best under coach Matt Painter – defend, hustle and find open shooters. It should be enough to keep them climbing in the poll.
Nebraska: Glynn Watson Jr. scored four points after being shut out for the first time since his freshman season Wednesday at Maryland. … The Cornhuskers had eight turnovers but were outrebounded 39-24. … Nebraska is 0-7 all-time at Mackey Arena and has lost five of the last six in the series. … Nebraska shot 38.2 percent from the field.
Purdue: Eifert also had seven rebounds and a career-high four steals while Eastern matched his season-high with 12 points. … Eastern also grabbed 10 rebounds. … Purdue’s 10-2 mark in conference play is tied for the fifth-best in school history. … Painter won his 312th game and needs four more to move into the top 10 in Big Ten history.
Nebraska: Will try to end its skid when it heads home Wednesday to face Minnesota.
Purdue: Can make a major statement Tuesday at No. 24 Maryland.