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Boilers make early exit from Big Ten tourney

Purdue's D.J. Byrd reacts after an NCAA college basketball game against NebraskBig Ten tournament Thursday March 14 2013 Chicago. Nebraskw57-55.

Purdue's D.J. Byrd reacts after an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska at the Big Ten tournament Thursday, March 14, 2013, in Chicago. Nebraska won 57-55. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: April 16, 2013 4:27PM



CHICAGO — So much for Purdue’s late-season surge.

In the No. 7 seed Boilermakers’ 57-55 loss to No. 10 Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday night, the disjointed offense, as well the untimely lapses on defense, that had marked most of the season reared their ugly heads once again. For good measure, add failing to corral a key defensive rebound in the final minute; as well as poor foul shooting, including 2-of-7 from the line in the final 5:34.

The Purdue that won at Wisconsin, nearly upset Michigan and blew out Minnesota was not present at the United Center.

“We seemed like we reverted back to how we played most of the year, especially against good competition,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said.

Still, despite it deficiencies, Purdue (15-17) still was in the game, as Nebraska (15-17) couldn’t slam the door down the stretch. Terone Johnson missed two shots in the waning seconds that would have tied the score and sent the game to overtime.

“You’d like a better shot,” said Painter, noting both shots were contested and Johnson didn’t get a solid ball-screen on the first. “But we had the ball in the right guy’s hands.”

The Cornhuskers scored the first nine points of the second half, taking a 39-28 lead with 17:17 left on a transition 3-pointer by Dylan Talley, and the Boilermakers never truly recovered. They still trailed by 11 points with less than 14 minutes left in the game, and six with less than two, in a game they last led in the middle stages of the first half.

“It’s just an immature approach,” Painter said of the Boilermakers’ start to the second half.

“You do your defensive assignment, you don’t get back-doored out of the corner, you stay tight on a screen, you just do what you’re supposed to do. If they make tough shots, you shake their hand. But we just had simple breakdowns, and we just weren’t ready to play.”

Said Ronnie Johnson: “We just were digging ourselves in a hole, pretty much. They were scoring, and then we were coming down throwing up bad shots, and that’s not what you want.”

D.J. Byrd had 15 points and eight rebounds, matching a season high, going 2-of-8 from 3-point range; he made the Boilermakers’ first 3 with 4:11 left after they had missed their first eight attempts. A.J. Hammons had 11 points, sitting for an important second-half stretch in favor of Sandi Marcius, who had six rebounds in 14 minutes before fouling out. Ronnie Johnson had 10 points.

Shavon Shields led the Cornhuskers with 19 points, including 15 in the first half. Brandon Ubel, who missed Purdue’s 65-56 win on Jan. 16 in Lincoln with an elbow injury, had 16 points and eight rebounds

Marcius scored to draw Purdue to 54-50 with 1:19 left. After Ubel missed the front end of a one-and-one, Byrd hit a 3-pointer with 39.1 seconds left. But after Ray Gallegos made the first free throw and missed the second with 33.2 seconds left, the Boilermakers could not grab the rebound, blocking out but with no one pursuing the ball, allowing the Cornhuskers to get it.

“That crushed us,” Painter said.

Ubel proceeded to make the second of two free throws to give Nebraska a 56-53 lead, before Byrd scored on an offensive rebound with 13.0 seconds left. Gallegos then made the second of two free throws, before Terone Johnson’s two missed jumpers, capping his 4-of-14 performance.

“You just have to show some discipline and put them on defense and break them down, and we didn’t do that,” Painter said of Purdue’s offense overall. “We were too eager, we didn’t do a good job of moving … We just didn’t have good ball movement, we didn’t cut hard, we did too much watching. That’s what we’ve really worked on this past month. It’s a shame that you get in a close game like that, and you can’t do a better job of just running good offense.”

The loss puts a serious dent in Purdue’s postseason aspirations. The NIT would seem to be a non-starter, with perhaps the CBI, or the CIT, a possibility.

“I believe so,” Byrd said when asked if the Boilermakers deserved some sort of bid.

“The way we played the last couple weeks … we’ve had some good games, we’ve played hard, we’ve come up short in some big games too. For me, I always want to play more games. That would be great if we can.”

Painter, though, slowed such discussions.

“It’s also one of those things I want our guys in the right frame of mind,” he said. “Just because I want to do it, I don’t play. They can say what they want, you have to be able to give your word that you’re going to go out there and fight, and take it seriously, and go out and try to win basketball games, if you get that opportunity.”



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