LINCOLN — Save the sympathy for Nebraska forward Walter Pitchford.
“He's fine,” teammate Shavon Shields chimed in before Pitchford could answer how his injured knee held up during the Huskers' 76-57 rout of Purdue.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore, who left the Penn State game Thursday with a bruised knee, started and produced 10 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. He also was instrumental in helping limit Purdue center A.J. Hammons to six points with three turnovers.
“What's most impressive about Walt was how he would react to injury,” NU coach Tim Miles said. “I saw a guy who was writhing in pain and very sore go to a guy who practiced on Saturday for as much as I asked him.
“Then he came out today and you wouldn't have known he had an injury. That says a lot about Walt and what a good mindset he is in right now.”
Pitchford now has scored in double figures in seven of the past eight games, matching his total from the first 18 games.
He played without a brace, and said a cold tub soak and a good night's sleep should keep him going.
“I was getting words of wisdom from my teammates, like Shavon, telling me, 'Don't think about it. It's a mental thing,'” Pitchford said. “So I didn't think about it.”
Shields has played through a similar knee bruise suffered earlier this season.
NU fans applauded
Purdue coach Matt Painter's first look at Pinnacle Bank Arena led him to call the atmosphere “unbelievable.”
“The fans here are great,” he said. “And this is an unbelievable venue. Most fans won't come out until you win. These fans will come out to help them win. That says a lot about the people in this community and this state.”
Nebraska has a Big Ten-best 13-1 home record. Still, Painter said the Huskers need another good road win like the recent upset of Michigan State to get the selection committee's full attention.
“They could beat some people in the tournament,” he said. “You get them on a neutral court, they could beat a lot of people.”
Nebraska's next game is Wednesday on the road against Illinois.
Nine minutes into the game Sunday, Nebraska held a 6-5 lead and the two teams were a combined 3 of 20 from the field.
“We were out of sync,” Miles said. “Our first possession I told the guys to run motion a couple of times and our first two plays would be this and that.
“Half of them lined up in this and the other half in that. We were really disjointed early. Once we started sharing the ball and taking better shots ... but early, boy, it was awful to watch the first eight minutes.”
Bits and pieces
Purdue had two players go down with injuries Sunday. Guard Sterling Carter suffered right knee damage that didn't appear to be a ligament but could involve cartilage. Forward Jay Simpson slumped face down in the lane on a second-half possession and had to be helped from the court. Painter said the freshman complained of light-headedness and dizziness. Simpson was checked by NU medical personnel. ... Purdue is last in the Big Ten in free-throw shooting at 64.5 percent, but made all 12 in the first half and 22 of 29 (75.9 percent). ... Nebraska now has held five straight teams to 37 percent shooting or less.
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Video: Highlights from Nebraska-Purdue