Thursday's NCAA Tournament: Purdue holds off Tennessee 99-94 in OT
Louisville, Ky. — Down two to Tennessee with 2.7 seconds left, Purdue narrowly avoided a 5-second call before Carsen Edwards took a pass in the corner and heaved up a 3-point attempt that bounced off the rim.
But a whistle gave Edwards and the Boilermakers a reprieve.
Lamonte’ Turner bumped into Edwards after he released the shot and the Big Ten’s leading scorer went to the line for three free throws with 1.7 seconds left. Edwards missed the first, steadied himself, and knock down the next two to force overtime. Given a second chance to put away the Volunteers, the Boilermakers got it done.
Edwards finished with 29 points as Purdue advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000, beating Tennessee 99-94 on Thursday night after blowing an 18-point lead.
“When I got to the free throw line, I was struggling all game,” said Edwards, an 85.2 percent shooter who went 8 of 14 at the line in the game. “Being able to hit the last two was just a blessing. Just an opportunity, stepped up to get us some more time to play.”
Turner said Edwards had been kicking out his leg all night, something he had been pointing out to the referee.
“I try to contest the shot, and his leg made contact with me and they called a foul,” Turner said. “So I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.”
The third-seeded Boilermakers (26-9) will play top-seeded Virginia, a 53-49 winner over Oregon, on Saturday night in the South Regional final for their first trip to the Final Four since 1980.
Purdue is in a regional final for the fifth time, but first with coach Matt Painter, who had gotten the team to the round of 16 four times previously.
“I’m happy for myself, happy for my guys and happy for Coach Paint,” said Ryan Cline, who had a career-high 27 points shooting 7 for 10 from 3-point range before fouling out in OT.
Grant Williams’ dunk with 8.8 seconds left made it 82-80 and had second-seeded Tennessee (31-6) on the verge of its second Elite Eight berth all-time. Williams also blocked Edwards’ layup attempt in the closing seconds out of bounds. Officials reviewed the play to see if it went off Edwards’ ankle, but only adjusted the clock, giving Purdue one more chance.
“I didn’t know if it went off me or his leg or anything,” Williams said. “They just said they looked at the clock and the time on the clock. I don’t know if they looked for who it went off on so couldn’t tell you.”
It was Tennessee’s second straight overtime game in this tournament. The Vols blew a 25-point lead to Iowa in the second round, but recovered to win it in OT. The last team to play consecutive overtime games in the NCAA Tournament was Florida in 2011. The Gators beat BYU and lost to Butler.
“We had the lead with one-point something seconds left,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “Tough foul.”
Purdue scored nine of the first 11 points in OT.
“I think we had that relief,” Painter said. “Our guys did such a good job of competing in overtime. You know how it goes. Like the ball bounced our way a couple times. I thought in regulation there were a couple bounces we didn’t get. But it did in overtime.”
Williams and Admiral Schofield scored 21 apiece for Tennessee. Jordan Bowden had 16, Turner 15 and Jordan Bone 15.
This was the third straight Sweet 16 berth for the Boilermakers, and their experience at this point showed compared to a Tennessee team with nobody around from the Vols’ last trip to a regional semifinal back in 2014. The Boilermakers led 40-28 at halftime, handing Tennessee only its fourth double-digit deficit this season.
The Boilermakers led 51-33 with 16:19 left before the Vols turned in a 16-2 run to tie it up at 65 with 6:56 left.
Virginia 53, Oregon 49: In Louisville, Ky., the No. 1 seed Cavaliers reached their second regional final in four years with a victory over the 12th-seeded Ducks in the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers face third-seeded Purdue in the South Regional finals Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
The Cavaliers (32-3) shot 36 percent and matched a season low in scoring, but got baskets when needed to outlast the Ducks (25-13). Ty Jerome’s 3 was the biggest as he took Kihei Clark’s pass and converted from deep to make it 48-45 with 3:34 left.
A follow-up from behind the arc would have been even better for the junior guard, who obviously wanted breathing room in a tight defensive game.
Virginia clamped down from there holding Oregon scoreless for more than five minutes after the Ducks went ahead, 45-42, on Louis King’s 3 with 5:43 left.
Clark tied it with a 3 with 5:21 left and De’Andre Hunter got free for a layup for 24 seconds left for a five-point edge that was enough to stop Oregon’s 10-game winning streak.
“At times we struggled,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, “but we made enough offensive plays and certainly rallied defensively.”
Clark finished with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. Diakite grabbed 11 rebounds as Virginia edged Oregon 34-31 on the glass and held the Ducks to 38 percent shooting.
King’s 16 points led Oregon, while Payton Pritchard had 11 and Paul White 10. The Ducks had hoped to reach their third Elite Eight in four years but struggled all night to score – especially down the stretch.
Gonzaga 72, Florida State 58: In Anaheim, Calif., the top-seeded Bulldogs beat the Seminoles in a Sweet 16 rematch that moved Gonzaga to a regional final for the fourth time.
“This year we came with revenge and we did it,” said Rui Hachiumura, who led Gonzaga with 17 points in the West Region semifinal.
Gonzaga (33-3) is back in the Elite Eight for the second time in three years after Florida State ended the Bulldogs’ season last year. That defeat, as well as games this season against North Carolina, Duke and Tennessee, is what Zach Norvell Jr. said prepared Gonzaga to face fourth-seeded Florida State (29-8) again.
“We wanted to be more physical than them, take the fight to them both on offensive and defensive ends, trying to switch up schemes and don’t let them get too comfortable,” said Norvell, who scored 15 points.
Gonzaga will face Texas Tech on Saturday for the first spot in the Final Four.
The Bulldogs were the aggressors against Florida State, which had only lost to Duke and North Carolina in the two months leading into the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga had four players score 14 or more points but was powered by defense – the Bulldogs outrebounded Florida State by nine, had 13 offensive rebounds and scored 17 second-chance points.
Florida State could not consistently counter Gonzaga’s physicality, and the Seminoles shot just 39.3 percent from the field (24 of 61), were 3 of 20 on 3-pointers and committed 14 turnovers.
Brandon Clarke — who had 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots — also said that confidence played a role. The Bulldogs had Florida State’s 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje in early foul trouble and held the senior to eight points and only 12 minutes.
Gonzaga led most of the game but Florida State rallied to pull within four with less than four minutes to play. The Bulldogs closed the door though with a 12-2 run as Florida State missed six of seven from the field.
Norvell Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3:06 remaining made it 63-56 and ended any hopes of a comeback.
Trent Forrest led Florida State with 20 points. The Seminoles advanced to the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993, but fell one step short of another trip to the Elite Eight. Terance Mann, who led Florida State with 18 points in last year’s game, was held to five points on 1 of 8 shooting.
Florida State played without senior Phil Cofer, who learned after his team’s first-round win over Vermont that his father, former Detroit Lion Mike Cofer, had died after a long illness. The funeral is Saturday in Georgia and Cofer is with his family. The Seminoles left an open spot for Cofer when they lined up in pregame for the national anthem and wore a black patch on their warmups with Mike Cofer’s initials.