The Huskers host Purdue on Sunday. Here's a preview of the matchup:

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska

TV: BTN

Online: Fox Sports Go

Radio: 590 AM (Omaha) 1400 AM (Lincoln)

Opponent Info

2019-20 record: 6-3

Offensive efficiency (KenPom): 26th (NU: 147th)

Defensive efficiency (KenPom): 5th (NU: 168th)

Trending: Up. Matt Painter has established himself as one of the top three or four coaches in the Big Ten, and the past 12 months have shown why. With Carsen Edwards and sharp shooters, the Boilermakers were five points away from the Final Four. With a new roster, Purdue is getting it done on the defensive end. They’re average offensively, ranking 12th in scoring offense in the Big Ten, but rank second in scoring defense, giving up 55 points per game. Teams shoot 25.8% from 3-point range on the Boilermakers, and only one opponent has scored 70 or more points. That was a 70-66 loss to Texas. After a 4-3 start, it looked like this could be a so-so year for Purdue. They then blew out defending champion Virginia 69-40 and recalibrated expectations. They enter Sunday fresh off a week break after a 58-44 win over Northwestern last Sunday.

Players to watch

» Matt Haarms will be the tallest player Nebraska has faced this season. He stands at 7-foot-3 and 250 pounds, scoring 11.7 per game with 6.3 rebounds. Rarely will Haarms give you 20 points and 15 rebounds and completely dominate. He doesn’t play enough for that (about 25 minutes).But he’s someone on every possession — on both ends — NU has to be cognizant of. Nebraska likes to get to the rim, and he creates issues in there. The Huskers also will have to deny, deny, deny from the block like they did against Indiana with moderate success.

» Trevion Williams has not scored more than 10 points in a game this year. But he’s 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds. He’s a load inside, and he and Haarms on the floor at the same time will put Nebraska in a bind. There’s only one Yvan Ouedraogo, and hardly ever does NU have Ouedraogo and Kevin Cross on the floor at the same time. When they do, the offense is jumbled. So Williams could have himself a day if he gets matched up against Matej Kavas, Cross or anyone else. He’s been sniffing a double-double for a while now.

» Jahaad Proctor is 6-foot-3, shoots 44% from the floor and scores 14.2 per game. Not a lethal 3-point shooter, but he’ll take them. Proctor is the leading scorer, the facilitator and the engine. Throw him off, you got a chance.

Three keys for Nebraska

1. It’ll hard to replicate the effort Nebraska gave at Indiana. That was the hardest the Huskers have guarded all year and the best they’ve spaced the floor offensively, and the 12 3-pointers tied for most this season. Together it was the best outing of the Fred Hoiberg era. The reality is, they’ll have to do it again on tired legs. Nebraska punched back every time IU started to get comfortable. It made a 3, made a defensive stop, something to stay in reach. That says a lot about the coaching, and about the growth of the team. The next test is: Can they do it two games in a row?

2. Guess what? Through 10 games, Thorir Thorbjarnarson is shooting 54.2% from 3-point range. That’s 10 games. That’s not an accident. Feed the man. I don’t think it is an accident that, with just seven scholarship players at the end of last year, Nebraska went on a run with Thor on the floor, and with eight scholarship players on Friday, Nebraska was in a fight with serious minutes from Thor again. When he’s on the floor, good things happen. He’s in the right spot defensively, he spaces the floor better than anyone. Run some sets for him, let him work on the wings.

3. Nebraska was outrebounded by Indiana by 54-31. Just killed on the boards. But you’ve not read a lot about that, have you? Why? Because if you get outrebounded, but make up for it, then you can survive. That’s what Nebraska did Friday. Indiana scored 26 second-chance points, which is too many. The Huskers will get outrebounded on Sunday. But if they can limit it to one point per offensive rebound, that’d go a long way. Keep that to under 20.

Prediction

KenPom: Purdue wins, 73-61

Chris Heady’s take: 

There’s a lot to worry about here. Nebraska’s coming off an overtime loss on Friday and has to play less than 48 hours later. Purdue has had a week off. The Boilermakers are one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten and 10th in the country in getting offensive rebounds. Nebraska’s 348th in preventing those. That’s not great. But there was a lot to worry about on Friday at Indiana with Jervay Green getting suspended just hours before tip and the Hoosiers’ size inside. Friday proved the Huskers have it in them to fight. The question is if they can bring that every night, especially twice in one weekend. If this is close, the growth in the past two months is pretty astonishing. If it isn’t, you can’t really blame them. Purdue 60, Nebraska 51.


Meet the 2019-20 Nebraska men's basketball team

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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