Even if you are not a Tennessee fan the sound of Rocky Top can give you goosebumps and Thursday night a large crowd of Orange took over Louisville’s KFC Yum Center as the Vols were looking to get one step closer to their first ever Final Four. On the other side of the court stood a rough and hardened group of Purdue Boilermakers looking for their first Final Four trip since Joe Barry Carroll and Lee Rose’s glory days of 1980.
The big difference in the first half was the Volunteers inability to shoot the basketball, as they were just 4-13 from the free throw line and shot just 36% from the field, while Purdue shot 55% from the field and controlled the interior game, out-scoring the Vols in the paint 16-8.
Carson Edwards led the Boilers with 15 points in the first half and inside Trevion Williams contributed 5 rebounds, most of which were early in the half. The Volunteers had many opportunities to close the gap at the end of the first half but failed to convert at the free throw line.
Everybody in Tennessee was worried about Carson Edwards coming into this game but the start of the second half Ryan Cline was the Boilermaker to worry about. Cline was on fire, leading Purdue to a 53-36 lead at the fifteen minute TV timeout. As a Purdue fan behind said, “Tennessee was in some serious shit”.
Tennessee started digging out behind a huge 4-point play by Jordan Bowden when he was fouled by Ryan Cline while making a three-point shot. Carson Edwards hit a huge three to stop the chance of a Tennessee run. Aaron Wheeler added a three-point shot at the 11:47 mark to push Purdue’s lead back up to 63-49.
The next 4 minutes were all Tennessee as Schofield and Bowden each made several big plays and everybody in the arena wondered why Purdue Coach Matt Painter did not call a quick timeout. The Volunteers fans were then having an effect on the game and Purdue needed to turn back the tide of Volunteers before they get overrun. With 7:19 left in the game Purdue lead 65-62.
Admiral Schofield had been quiet until the second half. Schofield hit a three-point shot and two free throws, giving Tennessee the lead at 72-70 with 4 minutes left in the game. The question at this point had to be can Cline or Edwards do anything the turn back the tide of Rocky Top?
Ryan Cline and Admiral Schofield put on a show over the next two minutes. Cline was, as they say, “on fire,” as was Schofield. Cline hit yet another three with 30 seconds left, tying the game at 80. A grant Williams dunk with 8.8 seconds left puts the Vols up 82-80. Carsen Edwards then drove the length of the court, getting the ball knocked out of his hands with 2.5 seconds left. Edwards got fouled shooting a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in the game. Edwards missed the first but calmly made the next two to send the game into overtime.
Overtime was all Purdue, as Ryab Cline continued his hot streak. Unfortunately for Boilermakers fans Cline fouled out of the game with 2 minutes left while up 89-84. Grady Eifert made a huge play, hitting Matt Harmes on a perfect pass to put the Boilers up 91-84 with 1:35 left in the game. From there the Boilers played strong defense and made the majority of their free throws to ice the game. The Boilermakers are now just one step away from a place that they haven’t been in 39 years, the Final Four!
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