In what was the overarching theme of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, the game between No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No 9 Purdue provided great theater, with the Bearcats rallying to force overtime at the buzzer and surviving a game-winning attempt from the Boilermakers in the extra period for a 66-65 overtime win.
Purdue kept a slight advantage for most of the game and well into the second half until Cincinnati went in front 45-44, its first lead since it was 22-21, with five minutes remaining. The Boilers answered, though, and took their largest lead of the game at 56-49 with 48 seconds remaining. Cincy, however, stormed back with six points in four seconds on a three-pointer, a turnover and a three-point play.
Cincinnati then fouled Purdue center A.J. Hammons who made his two free throw attempts with 37 seconds left to give his team a 58-55 advantage. Gary Clark cashed in on a layup six seconds later to cut Cincinnati’s deficit to one. Then, with seven seconds to go, Farad Cobb fouled Purdue’s Jon Octeus, who was only able to convert 1-for-2 from the line.
Boilermakers coach Matt Painter called a timeout to try and set up his defense, but the Bearcats' Troy Caupain still went the length of the floor and finished a contested layup as time expired to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the teams traded baskets again in frantic fashion with neither team leading by more than three. Cobb converted a layup with 30 seconds remaining to give Cincy a 66-63 lead before Octeus answered for Purdue with a spinning shot in the lane with 6.9 seconds to go to pull the Boilermakers within one.
Caupain was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and missed the front end of a one-and-one with five seconds remaining. Purdue corralled the rebound and had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a Vince Edwards' three-point attempt rimmed out.
It was not the prettiest 45 minutes of basketball. Each team shot below 41% from the floor, including Purdue’s dismal 4-for-26 (15.4%) display from behind the arc.
Cobb led Cincinnati with 14 points, although he had just four points in the second half. Coreontae DeBerry had 13 points, while Caupain tallied 10. Bearcats big man Octavius Ellis was ejected in the second half for committing a Flagrant 2 foul when he threw a blatant elbow into the neck of Hammons.
Hammons had a 17-point, 10-rebound effort for the Boilermakers, while Edwards contributed 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.