Once more in the Big Ten, Zach Edey and the top-seeded Boilermakers have faltered.
Tuesday night, Nebraska overcame No. 1 Purdue 88-72 thanks to a dominant second half. It was Nebraska’s first victory over a No. 1 team since 1982, and Purdue’s second loss of the season against an unranked Big Ten team.
That, of course, sparked a riotous party at Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska entered the locker room on the strength of a big run by Sam Hoiberg following a close first half for the most part. With an 11-point lead at the half, the Huskers finished the quarter on a 13-0 run, seven of which were attributed to Hoiberg.
Hoiberg, who completed the game with nine points, is the head coach Fred Hoiberg’s son.
Even while the run was significant, Nebraska’s defensive play was what really won the game. The opening half saw the Huskers virtually shut down Edey. In the first 20 minutes, the National Player of the Year winner was limited to just two points and four rebounds.
Even though Purdue swiftly narrowed the deficit to one point in the second half, that was the closest they could get. After that, Nebraska stormed back up by double digits with a rapid 8-0 run that was capped by another steal and basket by Hoiberg.
For the most part, it kept Purdue at bay, mostly because of three crucial 3-pointers from C.J. Wilcher. Keisei Tominaga made a 3-pointer of his own late in the game to put Nebraska ahead by ten points heading into the under-4 TV timeout, despite Fletcher Loyer’s late 3-pointer cutting the advantage to seven.
Nebraska (13-3) maintained their lead after that, winning by 16 points.
Tominaga scored 19 points to lead Nebraska. He was one of seven players to make a 3-pointer and shot five out of nine from beyond the arc. Wilcher got 16 points off the bench, and Rienk Mast contributed 18 points.
In the defeat for Purdue, Edey ended with 15 points and seven rebounds. Loyer finished with 13 points, and Mason Gillis added 16 off the bench.
This season, the Boilermakers (14-2) have suffered two losses in conference play to teams that are not ranked. They raced up to the top of the national rankings in December, but they were defeated by Northwestern in overtime. This season, Purdue has had little trouble defeating rated opponents. After dominating Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Marquette at the Maui Invitational in November, the Boilermakers defeated Arizona, which was ranked #1 at the time, last month. Last week, they defeated No. 9 Illinois.
Following Iowa State’s season-opening loss against No. 2 Houston in Ames on Tuesday night, Purdue’s defeat represented the second huge upset in college basketball. Although the top six teams suffered a historic defeat on that day, it is the first time since 2022 that the top two teams have suffered defeat on the same day. Following their defeats on Tuesday, No. 3 Kansas should go up to No. 1 the following week.
Next Saturday, Purdue will host Penn State. It won’t face a ranked opponent until heading to Madison on February 4 to take on No. 15 Wisconsin.
Of its last seven games, Nebraska has won six of them. The Huskers lost to No. 15 Wisconsin on Saturday after winning five straight. Their season’s first victory over a ranked opponent came on Tuesday, and it will significantly boost their NCAA tournament resume come March. Iowa will play Nebraska on Friday.