Saturday's NCAA Tournament: Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova
Hartford, Conn. — Purdue’s Carsen Edwards says he was getting tired of answering questions about his shooting slump.
The Boilermakers’ junior star had all the answers Saturday night. He scored a career-high 42 points as Purdue knocked reigning national champion Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament in an 87-61 rout.
Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Boilermakers (25-9), who advanced to their third straight Sweet 16. Ryan Cline added 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
Eric Paschall had 19 for Villanova (26-10), which saw its quest for a third national title in the last four seasons end during the tournament’s first weekend. Fellow senior Phil Booth scored 15 points, putting him over 1,500 for his career.
Edwards has battled a sore back and coming into the tournament had hit just 32 percent from the floor in his previous 11 games.
Against Old Dominion in the first round he was not much better, scoring 26 points but on 7 for 23 from the floor and 4 for 12 from behind the arc.
He found the bottom of the net early and often against ‘Nova, making 12 of his 21 shots and nine 3-pointers on 16 attempts.
“I wouldn’t say I knew I had a career night until the game was over,” he said. “I was just so focused on trying to get the win, especially in games like this where you value every possession.”
Purdue shot 54 percent while holding Villanova to just 20 baskets on 58 shots (34 percent).
It was the worst tournament loss in Villanova’s storied NCAA Tournament history and the largest blowout of a defending champion in nearly three decades, dating back to Loyola-Marymount’s 149-115 dismantling of Michigan in 1990.
“This game is a humbling game,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “We didn’t get up on Edwards early, didn’t get up on Cline early and when great shooters get hot, you’re in trouble.”
Purdue jumped out early, building a 13-point lead thanks to Edwards’ outside shooting and Haarms’ work down low.
The 7-foot-3 Dutchman towered over the shorter Wildcats, who didn’t start anyone over 6-8.
Purdue had nine 3-point baskets in the first half and a dunk by Haarms put the Boilermakers up 43-24 at intermission.
Another dunk from the Dutchman extended the lead to 35 in the second half. Villanova chipped away but the sixth seeded Big East champions did not have weapons to make it a game.
Gonzaga 83, Baylor 71: In Salt Lake City, Brandon Clarke had five monster dunks, five blocks, and matched a career high with 36 points, leading top-seeded Gonzaga past Baylor in the second round of the West Region.
Ninth-seeded Baylor (20-14) scored the first 10 points of the second half to draw within six and keep the game in range. But Gonzaga held on and Clarke’s easy bucket put the Bulldogs up 13 with less than four minutes left.
Clarke, who hit 15 of 18 shots, also had eight rebounds and two steals and lifted his season blocks total to 110, best in the nation.
Baylor’s Mark Vital finished with 17 points and eight rebounds but was hampered by foul trouble.
Florida State 90, Murray State 62: In Hartford, Conn., Mfiondu Kabengele scored 22 points, Terrance Mann added 18 and Florida State slammed Murray State to advance to the West regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State (29-7) is in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year, the first time FSU has pulled that off since 1992-93.
Murray State point guard Ja Morant, who posted a triple-double against Marquette in the first round, dazzled for a half against FSU, going 5 for 5 from 3-point range. He finished with 28 points, but the 12th-seeded Racers (28-5) were no match for the Seminoles, who hit eight of their first 11 shots from behind the arc and led by 16 at halftime.
Kentucky 62, Wofford 56: In Jacksonville, Fla., Kentucky ended Wofford’s season in the NCAA Tournament with a stifling defensive effort on Fletcher Magee in the second round.
Reid Travis scored 14 points, including two huge free throws with 17.8 seconds left, to help seal the victory for second-seeded Kentucky (29-6). The graduate student, a transfer from Stanford, also grabbed 11 rebounds to help hold off the upstart Terriers (30-5).
Two days after setting the NCAA Division I record for career 3-pointers, Magee stunningly went 0 of 12 from beyond the arc. He made seven 3s on Thursday in Wofford’s victory over Seton Hall.
Nathan Hoover had 19 points and Cameron Jackson 11 for the Terriers. Magee finished with eight points on 4-of-17 shooting.
The Wildcats had a two-point lead at halftime. The Terriers briefly recaptured the lead early in the second half, but Kentucky went ahead for good with 14 1/2 minutes remaining and doggedly protected their advantage the rest of the way.
Auburn 89, Kansas 75: Bruce Pearl’s Auburn rebuilding project took a massive leap.
The Tigers are headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 16 years.
Bryce Brown scored 25 points and hit seven 3-pointers, leading Auburn to a takedown of mighty Kansas in the Midwest Region at Salt Lake City.
The Tigers (28-9) were a surprise last season, earning a share of their first SEC title since 1999 and winning an NCAA Tournament game.
Auburn took another major step Saturday, running past a blue-blood program into the school’s first Sweet 16 since 2003 under Cliff Ellis.