Tim Miles was speaking in a larger sense about the two soul-killing plays from Grady Eifert that helped lift No. 15-ranked Purdue to a 75-72 win over Nebraska on Saturday afternoon.

But in the crux of this season, the words took on a deeper meaning.

"Sometimes," Nebraska's head coach said, "the game breaks you."

Nebraska did a lot of things right in front of the 9,051 fans who braved a blizzard to file into Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers did enough to, on many days, win.

NU (15-13, 5-12 Big Ten) tied a season-low with just five turnovers. NU held Purdue to 37.7 percent shooting, the ninth time this season the Huskers have held an opponent to less than 40 percent from the field. They were 7-1 in their previous eight such games.

Glynn Watson played his best game of the year, scoring a season-high 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting while on the other end helping harass Carsen Edwards into a 3-for-16 shooting night with five turnovers.

"I'm just going to step up to the challenge no matter what," Watson said. "Try to bring it on defense. And just try to play with energy and confidence."

But you already know the result. Purdue, now tied for first place in the Big Ten, hung on just days after the Huskers were routed by 24 points on the road by the 14th-place team in the conference.

"I thought (our guys) were just a couple plays away from winning," Miles said. "It just doesn't take much. Your margin of error is not great."

And that's the thing. When your margin for error is as small as Nebraska's, the small things matter more.

The Huskers are who they are at this point. There's no arguing that. But many of the same frustrating habits that have formed over the course of this season made the difference again.

Twice, Nebraska post players missed point-blank shots at the rim after finding themselves wide open. The Huskers finished 13-for-28 on layups, according to the in-arena stats.

Purdue outrebounded NU 48-30. The Boilermakers missed 38 shots and rebounded 19 of those misses, leading to a 20-15 edge in second-chance points.

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Nebraska, after starting 5-for-7 from three-point range, finished 8-for-23, including 2-for-12 in the second half.

Then came Eifert's two clutch plays. Twice in the game's last 3:39, Nebraska had Purdue deep into the shot clock. Twice Eifert came from seemingly nowhere to toss in layups.

The first came on an inbounds play with one second left on the shot clock that gave the Boilers (20-7, 13-3 Big Ten) a 62-58 lead.

The play led to Miles spiking his bottle of water to the court, its contents spilling out onto the floor. Nebraska's season in a nutshell.

Still, NU gave itself hope. Tanner Borchardt completed a three-point play to get the Huskers back within 62-61. Nebraska again played outstanding defense, forcing an Edwards three-pointer that was tipped by James Palmer as the shot clock bled away.

This time Eifert swooped in, grabbed the ball in midair, and layed it over the front of the rim all in one motion as the shot clock ticked from "2" to "1."

That bucket started a 6-0 Purdue run that gave the visitors their largest lead of the game.

The Huskers didn't give up the big runs that were the difference two weeks ago in West Lafayette, Indiana, but NU played from behind the entire second half.

Nebraska held Purdue to 29 percent shooting in the second half as Edwards, the Big Ten's leading scorer, missed his final 12 shots after starting 3-for-4.

The season rolls on. Nebraska plays at the two Michigan schools next week. 

"We've just got to keep fighting, man," Miles said. "Got to get them to bounce back and get going next week for the Michigan games next week."

[ PHOTOS: Huskers, Boilermakers battle at PBA ]

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.