Perhaps it was symbolic that this demoralizing loss came to the Cornhuskers. For decades, Nebraska's basketball program has been a footnote, even on its own campus. In West Lafayette and throughout the state of Indiana, basketball is everything.
One program has a proud tradition of NCAA Tournament success, and the other hasn't ever won a game in the big dance. Yet, Sunday's stomping showed the Cornhuskers on the rise and Boilermakers in free fall.
In Lincoln, there's a charismatic, successful head coach in Tim Miles, who has the Cornhuskers competing for an NCAA Tournament berth. Nebraska now sits in fifth place in the Big Ten—a team that was pegged for last place in preseason polls.
The Huskers wear warm-ups that say "US" in bold lettering, symbolizing the players' commitment to team. They give every drop of sweat for one another. See the hustle plays of 5-foot-9 guard Benny Parker, who tormented the Boilermakers in an enhanced role.
When the horn finally sounded at Pinnacle Bank Arena, one of the worst losses in Matt Painter's tenure had come to an end, though the outcome was decided long before. It was a sobering reminder of how far Purdue has fallen.
Purdue didn't belong on the same court as Nebraska, not after a sorry showing like that. The Cornhuskers were all over the court, giving everything they could for 40 minutes. Purdue quit at halftime.
There are so many fundamental flaws with Purdue's game, far too many to count. See the terrible shot selection, horrible defense and total lack of focus—that's just the beginning of it.
Overall, the Boilermakers have regressed throughout this season. It's a young team that is trending the wrong way.
The Boilermakers have shown no commitment to improving; something expressed in practices and reflected in each game. There have been silly, sloppy mistakes combined with bad basketball.
Barring a miraculous finish to the season—unlikely for a team showing it has quit—the Boilermakers won't see postseason success. Maybe another CBI appearance can build a foundation for next season, but that wasn't worth the costs and time last March.
2014-15 is critical for Purdue; a true turning point for the program. It's likely make or break for Matt Painter and his run as head coach. The team will have talent and plenty of promise, but must revert to the blue-collar ways that have made Purdue a perennial tournament team in the past. It will take commitment throughout the entire roster.
See Nebraska's success as an example for a program with potential. Sunday's beatdown of the Boilermakers serves as juxtaposition for two teams going in opposite directions.
Purdue has fallen so far.