Louisville, KY — The Purdue Boilermakers pulled out the 99-94 overtime victory against the Tennessee Volunteers in the most exciting game of the Sweet 16 thus far.
“I mean, we just we proved we can hang with the best of them,” explained Nojel Eastern after the win. “Tennessee is one of the best teams in the country. They played amazing today, shot the ball really well, made big plays. It was a dog fight out there. We proved we can fight, for sure. Everybody’s athletic, but if we fight together as a group, that’s the most athletic you can get.
The contest looked like it would be headed for a blowout as Purdue and Carsen Edwards (29 points) dominated the first half. By intermission, the Boilermakers were up 40-28, completely stunning Tennessee.
After the break, Purdue picked up right were it left off — pulling away from the Vols. The Boilermakers extended its lead out to as much as 18 points early in the second half. However, Tennessee refused to lay down as the team slowly started to chip away.
Admiral Schofield who was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes of play, came alive to rejuvenate Tennessee. His teammates, Grant Williams and Jordan Bowden also brought a new energy for the orange and white to get stops and convert those stops into points. The Vols used a 14-0 run to tie the game up.
“We talked about it in the locker room. We knew they were going to make a run,” explained Eastern on Tennessee’s second half run. “It’s not something we didn’t expect. We come out here, stick as a post, stay with each other and stay as a group. That’s what we did.”
Eventually Tennessee took the lead, but Purdue continued to fight as both teams battled down the stretch for a chance to play in the Elite eight.
With 10-seconds remaining in regulation and the game knotted up at 80 apiece, Williams threw down a dunk to give the Vols a two-point advantage, 82-80. But, on the opposing end, Lamonte Turner fouled Edwards on his three-point attempt with two ticks left on the game clock.
Edwards missed the first but then knocked down the following two to once again bring the game to a tie, 82-82. Tennessee wasn’t able to score on the other end as the game went into overtime.
Purdue got back to its ball movement and crashing the offensive boards as the team jumped out to an 85-82 lead. The Boilermakers outscored the Volunteers 17-12 in the extra five minutes of play to advance to the Elite 8. This will be Purdue’s first appearance this deep in the tournament since 2000.
Carsen led the way for Purdue with 29 points, followed by Ryan Cline with 27. Cline continued to hit down the three-ball as he drilled seven on the night — especially during crunch time.
“They’re a big-time shotmakers,” said Bowden on Cline’s shooting performance. “They was hitting tough shots all night. All respect goes to them, him and Edwards and the whole Purdue team. And we came up short, but we fought.”
Tennessee’s valiant comeback was led by Schofield and Williams’ 21 and Bowden’s 16 off the bench.