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No. 1 Purdue faces Nebraska seeking eighth straight win

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Top-ranked Purdue has been riding high since its only loss of the season and will look to continue that trend when it visits Nebraska in a Big Ten Conference game on Tuesday night in Lincoln, Neb.

The Boilermakers (14-1, 3-1 Big Ten) have won seven straight since losing to Northwestern last month, most recently knocking off then-No. 9 Illinois 83-78 at home on Friday. They nearly blew a 21-point halftime lead and saw star center Zach Edey limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble but held on thanks to a huge performance by sophomore forward Trey Kaufman-Renn.

“I just thought Trey was active,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Kaufman-Renn, who had 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting in 26 minutes. “He was probably the difference for us.”

Edey still had 10 points and 15 rebounds, five of which were offensive as Purdue pulled down 18 offensive boards. For the season, the Boilermakers average 11.9 offensive rebounds per game.

Nebraska (12-3, 2-2) will be playing a second consecutive ranked opponent and the hope is this one will go a little better than the previous. The Cornhuskers were crushed 88-72 at then-No. 21 Wisconsin on Saturday, snapping a five-game win streak that included victories over Michigan State, Kansas State and Indiana.

“Our defensive edge obviously wasn’t where it needed to be,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Offensively, we played good enough to win.”

The Huskers allowed 13 3-pointers, second-most this season, one fewer than in their home loss to in-state rival Creighton in December — the only other time they’d yielded more than 79 points. For the season, Nebraska is giving up 67.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting.

Purdue has shot at least 45 percent in all but two games this season. One of those was the overtime loss at Northwestern on Dec. 1. The Boilermakers had a season-high 17 turnovers in the loss.

Edey will be the main focal point of this matchup, as he is in every game. The 7-foot-4 senior is averaging 22.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 63.4 percent. He also gets to the line almost 10 times per game and makes more than 75 percent of his free throws.

Three other Boilermakers average double figures in scoring — guards Braden Smith (13.0), Lance Jones (11.2) and Fletcher Loyer (10.9). Smith and Loyer are also shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.

Nebraska has four double-figure scorers, led by senior guard Keisei Tominaga’s 14.2 per game, but it could be without one of them depending on how well junior Brice Williams comes back from an ankle injury suffered against Wisconsin.

Purdue has won four in a row over Nebraska but nearly lost in Lincoln last season. The Boilermakers squandered a 14-point second-half lead before coming out ahead in overtime.

–Field Level Media

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