South Region

NCAA tournament 2010: Purdue holds off Texas A&M, 63-61 in overtime

The road to Indianapolis is paved with dramatic snapshots.
By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2010

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Purdue and Texas A&M, two blue-collar teams defined by rugged defense, offered a 45-minute clinic Sunday on contested shots, body-to-body collisions and floor burn-inducing scrambles for loose balls.

In the end, Purdue's Chris Kramer, the Big Ten defensive player of the year, proved one play better in an overtime battle between two of the nation's best defensive teams. Kramer's game-winning layup with 4.2 seconds remaining gave fourth-seeded Purdue a 63-61 victory over fifth-seeded Texas A&M in the NCAA tournament's South Region.

Purdue (29-5) advanced to play top-seeded Duke in Friday's region semifinal in Houston.

It was fitting that the hero was Kramer, a senior so intense that in the final 90 seconds of overtime he lost his sneaker, tossed it off the court and raced downcourt to continue to play one possession of in-your-face defense -- minus a sneaker. The game's gritty tenor was an ideal fit for Kramer's rough-and-tumble style.

"Two great defensive teams battling it out," Texas A&M Coach Mark Turgeon said. "In the end, they were one play better."

After Texas A&M's Bryan Davis missed a contested layup, Purdue called a timeout with 10.1 seconds left to set up a final play. In the huddle, Kramer repeatedly called for the ball, and coaches told him to drive the lane if open.

Kramer inbounded the ball, got it back, dribbled past Nathan Walkup and drove to his left. At the basket, he squeezed in a layup with four seconds left, though Walkup and Davis were hovering over him.

Turgeon said Purdue caught the Aggies off guard because the Boilermakers attacked the basket sooner than they expected. Turgeon said Walkup got "out of step" and that it was disappointing for his team to guard well all game and give up a layup in the end.

"My mind was all over the place," Purdue guard Lewis Jackson said. "I thought E'Twaun [Moore] was taking the last shot and I heard Kramer say that he wanted the ball, and all I know is that he got it and it went in."

The Aggies (24-10) missed a desperation shot at the buzzer. And Purdue, a team most of the country counted out, continues on despite the absence of Robbie Hummel, one of the team's best players who suffered a season-ending knee injury Feb. 24.

Trailing by 11 points, Purdue went on a 17-2 run in the second half to change the game's complexion. Kramer sank a three-pointer seven minutes into the second half to give Purdue a 43-42 lead.

The first half won't be remembered for beauty. Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, the team's second-leading scorer, missed all six of his field goal attempts during a first half in which he played just 11 minutes because of foul trouble. Texas A&M's best player, Sloan, made just 3 of 9 field goal attempts in the first half.

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