A step-back three by Jaden Ivey with 1:01 remaining helped push the No. 3-seed Purdue Boilermakers past the No. 6-seed Texas Longhorns on Sunday night in Milwaukee, 81-71, in a hard-fought NCAA Tournament contest.
Ivey’s three, which came after shaking the tenacious defense of Texas guard Courtney Ramey, who helped hold the Purdue star without a field-goal attempt in the first half, splashed through the net as the Boilermakers led by three points against a Longhorns team that refused to go away. After Ramey’s ball-denial defense took Ivey almost entirely out of the game in the opening 20 minutes, the standout sophomore scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half.
Purdue had led by 10 points with 2:29 left before Texas senior guard Jase Febres hit a three and was fouled, converting the four-point play at the line. A dunk by senior forward Christian Bishop and a three by senior guard Marcus Carr cut the deficit to three points, but the Longhorns weren’t able to score over the final 91 seconds as the Boilermakers closed the game on a 7-0 run.
Featuring one of the most efficient offenses in the country, Ivey, and two standout post players, Purdue was always a difficult matchup for Texas and it was only magnified as the Horns struggled to defend without fouling. Head coach Chris Beard’s team was whistled for 29 fouls, 13 more than Purdue, and only shot 12 free throws compared to 46 for the Boilermakers, who finished with a 23-point advantage from the line.
But the Horns also struggled to slow down Purdue forward Trevion Williams, who came off the bench to score 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including making his first six shots, showing off an array of post moves against every defender Texas sent against him.
Texas senior guard Marcus Carr did his best to give the Longhorns a chance at the end, scoring nine points by the under-16 media timeout in the first half and finishing with a game-high 23 points with four made threes and another strong floor game that featured seven assists.
In support of Carr, senior guard Andrew Jones added 17 points, but dealt with foul trouble and only hit 2-of-7 three-point attempts. A bigger issue for the Longhorns was the lack of impact by senior forward Timmy Allen, who fouled out in 18 minutes, finishing minus-eight and scoring only two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Texas got off to a quick start offensively, hitting 5-of-6 shots before the under-16 timeout and making three of the first four attempts from beyond the arc. After the media timeout, the Longhorns went cold, missing 16 straight shots, including a chase-down block by Ivey in transition on a layup attempt by Ramey. As Texas went 9:40 without scoring, Purdue went on a 20-0 run, taking a 14-point lead.
But the Horns remained resilient even though that scoreless stretch served as the defining difference in the game by a wide margin. Jones hit a pullup jumper, got a steal that led to a dunk in transition, then junior guard Brock Cunningham hit a three, as did Carr, and Purdue was forced to call a timeout as the 14-point lead was cut to six points. Senior guard Jase Febres proceeded to hit one from beyond the arc, too, giving Texas a 9-1 run.
But the Boilermakers got some breaks late in the half as the Longhorns missed the front end of two one-on-ones at the free-throw line before Carr cut the margin to 36-30 with a jumper on the final Texas possession before halftime.
Jones and Carr helped the Longhorns quickly overcome the halftime deficit as the game settled into a back-and-forth contest for much of the second half. But the Horns fouled too frequently early in the half and the Boilermakers were in the bonus with 14:14 remaining, contributing to 27 free-throw attempts in the second half.
With 9:32 remaining, the game was tied 52-52. Purdue responded with the game’s second most important stretch, going on a quick 7-0 run thanks to a three by Eric Hunter Jr. and two impressive baskets by Williams. Texas never got closer than three points for the rest of the game.
While the opportunity to make a deep run in the tournament in a bracket without its top two seeds makes the loss more disappointing, Beard’s team finally broke the streak of NCAA Tournament losses and showed a lot of the characteristics he questioned after the Big 12 Tournament defeat.
Texas isn’t back yet, but Beard has this program on its way.