After losing a tough battle to the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Boilers fell to fourth in the Big Ten standings and are looking to turn things around against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Boilers (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten) are back at home where they are 11-1 and have played exceptionally well, winning their last six in a row. Purdue fell victim to a late-game surge by the Hawkeyes. Unable to put things together in the final quarter, they went on a three-minute scoring drought to end the game.
The Cornhuskers (9-11, 4-5) have lost their last two games and have been on the losing end of numerous close games, losing to Iowa, Rutgers and Northwestern by 6 points or fewer in each matchup.
Despite its losing record, Nebraska is a dangerous team that can present issues for any defense.
Nebraska has a top five scoring offense in the Big Ten and is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the conference. On average, they knock down 7.3 3-pointers per game.
“If we play really great defense, I don’t feel we will have to match it,” junior guard Dominique Oden said. “But if it comes to that, we have really great 3-point shooters too. I think we can definitely match them shooting 3-pointers just the same.”
The Cornhuskers are one of the best passing teams in the Big Ten, averaging 15.6 assists per game. Nebraska is also adept at playing the passing lanes and getting quick steals, coming away with eight steals per game.
One of Nebraska’s most dangerous players is sophomore guard Taylor Kissinger. She is the sixth best 3-point shooter in the NCAA, hitting 47.9 percent of her 3s.
“They have one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation,” sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin said. “That’s going to be a high focus for us. We’ll play some zone, we’ll play some man and we’ll mix it up a little bit.”
Additionally, Nebraska is a very deep team.
“It’s not just one player,” head coach Sharon Versyp said. “They spread things out with their points. We have to do a really good job on the defensive end.”
Nebraska has just one scorer averaging double figures and they have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes a game with eight of those players averaging at least 7 points. They have great size and rebounding should play a big factor in tonight’s game.
Thursday’s game could be a huge milestone for junior forward Ae’Rianna Harris. She is 12 rebounds shy of 700 rebounds, which would make her the first junior ever at Purdue to achieve the mark.
The Boilers are likely to lean on McLaughlin in the scoring department in order to combat some of Nebraska scoring. She’s shooting 40.3 percent from the 3-point line in conference play and is third in the Big Ten, averaging 2.8 3-pointers a game through the first half of Big Ten play.
Oden is also likely to have a big impact in the Boilers offense against the Cornhuskers. She is averaging 15.9 points per game in conference play and has been getting it done on both ends for Purdue.
“Big Ten play is to another level from non-conference. It’s where you really thrive,” Oden said. “It’s definitely something that gets me going.”
The two teams face off at 8 p.m. tonight in Mackey Arena. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.