A tightly contested game went Nebraska's way, 57-55, as Purdue went cold from beyond the arc and allowed the Huskers to score at will closer to the basket.
The Boilermakers had two chances to tie on the final possession, but both went off the back iron, allowing the No. 10-seeded Huskers to win in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time.
Shavon Shields and Brandon Ubel carried Nebraska. Shields, a freshman swingman, hit shots both from the perimeter and up close. He had 15 points in the first half and hit the first two buckets of the second half. Ubel, the 6'10 center from Kansas, didn't have a great game from the field — scoring 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting — but made his presence felt with eight rebounds and five assists while quieting A.J. Hammons. Although Hammons is a nice interior defender, the Huskers did a good job of drawing him away from the hoop to allow their guards and forwards to finish on cuts around the basket with ease.
For Purdue, star D.J. Byrd was off, although he did hit two threes — the team's only two of the game — in crunch time. Byrd finished with 15 points on 14 shots.
Both teams started the game ice-cold from beyond the arc, but hit everything else as both sides exchanged buckets in a topsy-turvy affair. Neither team led by more than four throughout the entire first period, combining to go 1-for-12 from three-point range, and Nebraska entered the break with a 30-28 lead over Purdue.
Then, out of the break, Nebraska got hot. Shields kept his strong play going by hitting the first two buckets of the period and Dylan Talley finally broke out by hitting a three, and the Huskers went out on a 9-0 run. While Nebraska was fine, Purdue got cold, missing seven consecutive shots between the two periods.
But the Boilermakers weren't dead. The offense slowed down for both squads, and after a dismal start, D.J. Byrd began to percolate, hitting a long jumper and nailing a three as part of an 8-0 run that cut Nebraska's lead to just one point. The teams traded some missed free throws, and another three from Byrd cut the lead to one with 40 seconds to go. Ray Gallegos missed a free throw at the other end, but the Huskers got the rebound. Purdue missed on their last possession, and Nebraska got the win.
Next up for the Huskers is No. 2 Ohio State in the quarterfinals. Nebrasked had two regular season losses against the Buckeyes.