In a game that had the feel of a grind-it-out matchup between familiar conference opponents, a defensive specialist made the winning shot.
Senior guard Chris Kramer hit a driving layup with 4 seconds left to the lift the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers past the fifth-seeded Texas A&M Aggies 63-61 in overtime Sunday afternoon in a South Region second-round game before 11,036 at the Arena.
Purdue (29-5) advances to the Sweet 16 for a second straight year. The Boilermakers take on top-seeded Duke on Friday at Houston.
“I had the ball and went right and just crossed over left and it kind of parted like the Red Sea,” said Kramer, who scored a team-high 17 points. “At that point it just came down to finishing and (Bryan) Davis came over and tried to block my shot.”
Kramer beat Davis to the basket, flipping the ball off the glass as he finished the layup.
“I thought we had a big-time effort, especially in the second half and then in the overtime,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose teams were 0-5 in previous overtime games. “I thought our guys really just hung in there and kept fighting. We did some real good things on the defensive end. I thought offensively we had some struggles. Our ability to defend kept us in this basketball game, and then our guys at the end made enough plays to get the victory.”
Kramer had the option to pass to junior guard E’Twaun Moore, who was trying to come off a screen to Kramer’s right. But when the lane opened, Kramer didn’t hesitate.
With 4:35 to go in regulation, Purdue senior guard Keaton Grant got a steal and followed with a dunk to extend the Boilermakers’ lead to 55-50.
But Purdue didn’t score again. The Boilermakers missed four shots in the final minutes, and those shots were contested hard by the Aggies (24-10).
Still, Purdue had a chance to win when it had the ball with 30 seconds left after junior JaJuan Johnson blocked a Donald Sloan shot.
But Moore got caught between two players. As he and B.J. Holmes scrambled on the floor for the ball, Holmes grabbed it and called timeout with 1 second left. A 27-foot attempt by Holmes missed wide at the buzzer.
Moore recognized that the Aggies were trying to trap him, but didn’t make an adjustment.
“I tried to take the trap man on,” Moore said. “I should have just passed out of it. I mean, we had a 3-on-2 so it was just a misread on my part.”
Moore was responsible for keeping Purdue close in the first half when Johnson got into foul trouble and didn’t score, missing all six of his shots. Moore had 11 of his 15 points in the first half.
“All losses hurt,” Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. “Some sting more than others and this one really stings. It was just two great defensive teams just battling it out. And in the end they were able to make one more plan than us.”
Davis led the Aggies with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
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