Senior guard Ryan Cline exploded to score a career-best 27 points and made seven 3-pointers as Purdue knocked off Tennessee 99-94 in overtime of a South Region semifinal game Thursday night at Louisville, Ky.
Junior guard Carsen Edwards made five 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 29 points as third-seeded Purdue (26-9) reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.
Sophomore center Matt Haarms and sophomore guard Nojel Eastern added 11 points apiece for the Boilermakers, who advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in their past five attempts.
“These guys have been resilient and have been tough all year,” coach Matt Painter said in a postgame television interview with CBS after his team got two free throws in the final seconds to force OT before prevailing.
Purdue will play top-seeded Virginia in Saturday’s regional final, with the winner advancing to the Final Four. The Cavaliers beat 12th-seeded Oregon 53-49.
Senior power forward Grant Williams and senior guard Admiral Schofield scored 21 points apiece for the second-seeded Volunteers (31-6). Junior guard Jordan Bowden scored 16 points, junior guard Lamonte Turner added 15, and junior point guard Jordan Bone scored 10.
“I can’t say enough about our guys fighting back,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “And taking nothing away from Purdue, but we were there. Tough one at the end. We had the lead with one-point-something seconds left. Tough foul.
“Lamonte Turner played his heart out. We wouldn’t have been in that situation without him. That’s a tough one for him. I’m really proud of these guys.”
Purdue won despite hitting just 16 of 33 attempts from the free-throw line. Tennessee also struggled at 14 of 28.
The Boilermakers shot 54 percent from the field, including 15 of 31 from 3-point range.
The Volunteers shot 50 percent from the field and were 12 of 24 from behind the arc.
Edwards drove for a hoop to give the Boilermakers an 89-84 advantage with 2:17 remaining in overtime. Haarms slipped loose for a dunk to make it seven-point margin with 1:38 left.
Tennessee pulled within 97-92 on Bone’s 3-pointer with 19.3 seconds left before Purdue closed it out.
Late in regulation, Williams dunked home a put-back to give Tennessee an 82-80 lead with 8.8 seconds left.
Williams blocked Edwards’ layup with 2.7 seconds left, and the ball went out of bounds. Purdue inbounded the ball to Edwards, who was fouled while shooting a 3-point attempt. He missed the first free throw before making the next two to tie the score at 82 with 1.7 seconds left.
“I just continued to focus,” Edwards said. “I mean, going into the free throw, I just focused and shoot a free throw every time how I always shoot it. After that, just did the same thing. Nothing changed.”
Painter said. “They had the momentum, they had the game. We’re the ones that have the ball down two with three seconds to go. ...
“But we were able to get out of that, get to overtime, and I think we had that relief. 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 was a couple bounces we didn’t get. But it did in overtime.”
Purdue led by 12 points at halftime and quickly pushed the lead to 51-33 on Cline’s 3-pointer with 13:56 left.
“There were times in the second half I was coming off and I knew I was going to shoot it,” Cline said, “so my teammates did a really good job of getting me open and giving me an opportunity.”
Edwards’ driving hoop gave the Boilermakers a 65-51 lead with 10:52 left before Tennessee ripped off the next 14 points. Turner scored the final five points of the burst, tying the score with a 3-pointer with 6:58 remaining.
Cline later buried his seventh 3-pointer to tie the score at 80 with 36.4 seconds remaining.
Edwards scored 15 points during a first half controlled by Purdue en route to a 40-28 advantage.
—Field Level Media