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Saturday's Big Ten: Eifert’s late baskets help No. 15 Purdue hold off Nebraska

By Kent Wolgamott
Associated Press
Nebraska's James Palmer Jr. (0) catches the ball following a dunk by Purdue's Matt Haarms (32) during the second half Saturday. Haarms finished with 17 points in Purdue's 75-72 win over Nebraska.

Lincoln, Neb. — Purdue’s Grady Eifert headed toward the basket when he saw Carsen Edwards put up a 3-pointer and the No. 15 Boilermakers leading Nebraska by a point with two minutes left.

Flying across the lane, Eifert grabbed the partially blocked shot with a second on the shot clock and managed to get off one of his two key late shots that pushed Purdue to a 75-72 win Saturday.

“I saw it got tipped,” Eifert said. “I knew the shot clock was winding down. I knew I would be able to come down and gather myself. I just flicked it up there and it rolled. I couldn’t see it after I shot it. Everyone celebrating, I could tell it went in.”

A couple minutes earlier, Eifert beat the shot clock when he slipped to the basket for an uncontested layup off an inbound pass from Ryan Cline.

“That doesn’t happen unless Carsen sprints off there and makes a hard cut,” Eifert said. “Kline made a perfect pass for me to catch and go up with it right away. When it’s one second on the clock, everyone’s thinking Carsen’s getting the ball there. We just wanted to get something at the rim.”

Nebraska coach Tim Miles could only shake his head and toss a water bottle as Eifert did his thing.

“First of all, I think you just credit Purdue and Grady Eifert,” Miles said. “Those are very good plays. Credit the victor, right? Second of all, I don’t think we made a mistake. It was a scramble situation defensively. Sometimes the game breaks you.”

Matt Haarms had 17 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for Purdue (20-7, 13-3 Big Ten), which won its second straight close road game, having beaten Indiana 48-46 on a tip-in with three seconds left Tuesday.


“We went to Indiana, we were fortunate, but we found a way to win,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We came here today and we were fortunate again. We still found a way. I think that’s what good teams do. To be able to hang in there, make our free throws, not turn the basketball over and outrebound them by 18, we’ll take that.”

The Boilermakers’ 14th win in 16 games pulled them into a brief three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State. The tie will be broken Sunday when those two teams meet in Ann Arbor.

Cline’s 3-pointer to end the first half gave the Boilermakers a two-point lead, and they never trailed again. Purdue made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch and finished 23 of 26 from the line.

Glynn Watson Jr. scored a season-high 25 points and James Palmer added 15 points and a season-high eight assists for Nebraska (15-13, 5-12), which lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

Edwards and Cline had 13 points apiece for the Boilermakers. Edwards continued to struggle with his shot after going 4 for 24 overall and 0 for 10 on 3-pointers against Indiana. With Watson the primary defender on Edwards, the Big Ten scoring leader was 3 for 16 and 1 for 10 on 3s Saturday and had no field goals the final 34 minutes.

“I’m just going to step up to the challenge no matter what,” Watson said. “Try to bring it on defense, just trying to play with energy and confidence on defense.”

More Big Ten

(At) No. 24 Maryland 72, Ohio State 62: Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 points, while Bruno Fernando had 14 points and 10 rebounds and No. 24 Maryland remained unbeaten at home in the Big Ten.

The Terrapins (21-7, 12-5) used a 13-0 run to take a 52-36 lead. Although the margin dwindled to two points with 5:27 left, Maryland held on to improve to 14-2 at home, including 7-0 in the conference.

With three Big Ten games left, including two at home, the Terrapins are in fourth place and in position to secure a double bye in the conference tournament.

Fernando scored all of his points after halftime, and reserve freshman Serrel Smith Jr. contributed a career-high 14 points for Maryland. Despite a slow start, Fernando secured his ninth double-double in his last 10 games.

Duane Washington Jr. scored 15 and Andre Wesson had 13 for Ohio State (17-10, 7-9). The Buckeyes have lost three of four and nine of their last 14.

Penn State 83, (at) Illinois 76: Lamar Stevens scored 25 points and Mike Watkins got his 26th career double-double as Penn State beat Illinois. Josh Reaves added 14 points for Penn State (11-16, 3-12 Big Ten Conference).

Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois (10-17, 6-10) with 18 points, all of them coming in the second half. Andres Feliz added 17 points for the Illini.

Watkins, who scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, also blocked five shots and moved into second place all-time for blocked shots at Penn State.

The game was intense and included a second-half technical foul on Illinois coach Brad Underwood, who kicked a chair following a call he disagreed with. Illinois went on a 7-3 run following the technical.

The Nittany Lions were 26 of 53 (49 percent) from the field, while Illinois was 26 of 66 (39 percent).

Both teams struggled defensively in the first half, while the Illini’s offense went cold for long stretches. Illinois shot only 35 percent from the field in the first half, while Penn State shot 50 percent.

The Nittany Lions led 39-32 at the half.

No. 22 Wisconsin 69, (at) Northwestern 64: Brad Davison scored 16 points, D’Mitrik Trice and Ethan Happ added 14 points each. Khalil Iverson added 11 points for the Badgers (19-8, 11-5 Big Ten), who had lost two of three. Happ scored nine of his points in the second half, and Trice shot 4-for-9 from 3-point range.

Vic Law had 24 points for the Wildcats (12-15, 3-13), and Dererk Pardon added 21. They have lost eight straight.

Wisconsin committed 10 turnovers and shot 45.5 percent from the field to Northwestern’s 40.7 percent. The Badgers went 7 for 19 from 3-point range compared to the Wildcats’ 6 for 21.

Happ took over after a quiet first half. He scored six consecutive points for Wisconsin — all on hook shots — for a 53-46 lead with 7:54 left. But Law responded by scoring 11 straight points on four baskets to give the Wildcats a 57-55 lead.

Davison made a jumper to put Wisconsin up 65-62 with just under two minutes to go before A.J. Turner missed a jumper on the other end. Law hit two free throws with 15.1 seconds left to pull the Wildcats within one. Davison hit two foul shots, and Northwestern’s Aaron Falzon missed a three with 0.4 seconds remaining.

Wisconsin has won seven of its last eight at Northwestern.