NCAA Tournament Second Round Recap - Purdue vs Texas A&M
(4) Purdue 63, (5) Texas A&M 61 (OT)
Chris Kramer wasn't ready for his collegiate career to end.
The rugged senior guard, known as Purdue's heart and soul, sank a driving layup with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Boilermakers to the Sweet 16. Kramer, fourth on the team in scoring for the season, finished with a team-high 17 points.
Purdue struggled offensively for most of the day, particularly star center JaJuan Johnson, who missed his first seven shots and didn't score until the second half. However, the Boilers overcame an 11-point second-half deficit, thanks in large part to Johnson's 11 second-half points and their usual tenacious man-to-man defense.
Texas A&M center Bryan Davis caused all sorts of problems for the Boilers, including his ability to draw Johnson's second foul about halfway through the first half. When Johnson gets in foul trouble, it's a problem for Purdue, who is forced to turn to untested freshman Patrick Bade. Davis took advantage of Johnson's foul issues, and ended up with 17 points and 15 boards.
Davis was the best player on the floor for most of the game, but the 6'9" senior would come up empty trying to swat Kramer's game-winning layup.
Kramer is the type of player who elicits emotion through his own intense play. He brings a tear of joy to a fan's eye, and creates feelings of hatred in the opposition. The Big Ten defensive MVP, who shut down Siena's Alex Franklin to turn around Purdue's first-round game on Friday, has been the Boilermakers' Tournament MVP so far.
Oh, by the way: Kramer had six of Purdue's eight points in overtime.
E'Twaun Moore, the Boilers' best perimeter scorer, had 15 points, 11 in the first half.
The Boilers and Aggies staged a sloppy second half that featured just one basket over the final 3:38, a layup by Texas A&M's Donald Sloan that tied the score 55-55 with 1:28 to play. Each team came up empty from there, sending the game to OT, when Kramer took over.
The Boilers will tip off against the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night in Houston. Many prognosticators (including President Obama) thought Purdue, without injured star Robbie Hummel, would lose to mighty mid-major Siena in the first round.
But here the Boilermakers are, in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Purdue is still extremely flawed without Hummel, its inside-outside threat who could always be counted on to lead the scoring charge, and to take pressure off Johnson and Moore. Matt Painter's bunch could be living on borrowed time, a 29-5 record notwithstanding.
Yet, funny things happen in March (Ali Faroukhmanesh, meet Korie Lucious). Could this Hummel-less squad still be a team of destiny?