March 8, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Purdue's first meeting with Nebraska was all about Robbie Hummel.
The rematch was about his supporting cast.
Anthony Johnson scored a career-high 17 points to help Purdue defeat Nebraska 79-61 on Thursday night in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Terone Johnson had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, Ryne Smith scored 15 points and Hummel and D.J. Byrd added 10 points for the sixth-seeded Boilermakers (21-11).
Hummel scored 29 points in an 85-63 win over Nebraska on Feb. 22, but he was content to set others up on his 23rd birthday. Anthony Johnson, the primary beneficiary, said the team's 3-point shooters helped him find lanes.
"I think it was our ball movement and them staying so close to guys like Robbie and Ryne and D.J., and that was giving me the opportunity to drive the lane and there was no help," Johnson said. "It was easy to get some floaters and some lay-ups."
Anthony Johnson, a reserve, said he enters games with an aggressive mindset. He took 10 shots in 26 minutes.
"When I come in, I just want to bring a spark," he said. "Even if Robbie and Lewis (Jackson) are in there with me, I still want to try to bring a lot of energy."
Nebraska knew what was coming and appeared powerless to stop it.
"The whole night, defensively, they kept us completely off balance," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. "We knew coming into the game we wanted to take away the lane, and that's something we didn't do. We can't give them the lane and the 3-point, and that's exactly what we did."
Purdue, which has won six of its past eight games, advanced to play No. 3 seed Ohio State on Friday. The seventh-ranked Buckeyes will offer Purdue a chance to improve its NCAA tournament seed.
"Tomorrow's a huge game for us," Hummel said. "Not only the opportunity to play a ranked team, but it's an opportunity to improve our season."
The Boilermakers shot 56 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers, matching a tournament record most recently reached in 2002. Nebraska, on the other hand, made just 8 of 27 threes and shot 42 percent overall.
"Obviously, we were able to get off to a pretty good start in the game," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "I thought the difference for us was our ability to make our threes and then defend at the 3-point line."
Bo Spencer scored 22 points for the 11th-seeded Cornhuskers (12-18), who were playing in their first Big Ten tournament game. Nebraska finished the season on a five-game losing skid.
Nebraska led 12-8 before Purdue rallied with a 17-0 run over a span of 7:48. Anthony Johnson scored seven points during that stretch while Nebraska missed five consecutive shots and committed five turnovers.
"I think we just started getting defensive stops," Smith said. "We weren't where we needed to be defensively, but once we got that squared off, we got going on the offensive end."
The Boilermakers led 39-31 at halftime. Purdue shot 52 percent from the floor and made 7 of 13 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Johnson scored 10 points in the first half, and Smith added nine. Hummel, the team's top scorer this season, committed two early fouls and played just 10 minutes in the first half, but Purdue rolled anyway.
Spencer led Nebraska with 14 points in the first half.
Nebraska scored the first four points of the second half, but 3-pointers by Smith and Hummel pushed Purdue's advantage back to 10 points.
Jackson's nifty pass in the lane to Terone Johnson led to a layup that put Purdue up 49-40 and forced Nebraska to call timeout.
Nebraska closed its deficit to six before a 3-pointer by Byrd and a 3-point play by Jackson gave Purdue a 57-45 lead with 13 minutes remaining. The Boilermakers led by as many as 20 points and weren't threatened the rest of the way.
"I thought we had a healthy balance of making the right decisions and making the right play," Painter said.