With a frustrated Octavius Ellis getting tossed early, UC had to find a way to win, and that they did at the Yum Center (terrible name) in Louisville. In front of a ton of UC fans, the Bearcats scratched and clawed their way back all night to secure a 66-65 win and advance in the Madness that is March.
Purdue is a tall and lengthy team. They out-rebounded UC 50-39 and dominated the paint all night. Thankfully, the Bearcats held the Boilermakers to just 15.4% behind the arc, compared to UC’s 41%.
The Cats were down at halftime 29-26, but clawed their way back in the final seconds of regulation to force OT. Indeed, Troy Caupain’s drive and layup appeared to take an eternity, the ball rolling around and touching every conceivable part of the rim before surrendering to the nylon mesh.
Both teams were exhausted at the end of regulation. UC was able to make a few buckets and Purdue missed a game-winning 3-point opportunity to close the night in Kentucky. Hats off to the Bearcats strength and conditioning, which has outmatched opponents all year.
The Bearcats shot 41% from the field and a much-needed 40% from 3, while UC held Purdue to just 36.1% from the field and 15.4% from 3.
While Farad Cobb led UC in points with 14, Coreontae DeBerry was by far the key to this W. With Ellis out it was imperative DeBerry play longer and better than he has all season, and he did. He notched 13 points, a pair of blocks, a few boards, and kept the height of Purdue under control defensively.
I may be biased, but this has been the best game in March Madness so far. The biggest lead was 7 by the Boilermakers, and this one truly went down to the wire.
Fun fact: These two teams combined for the most blocks of any Round 1 game.
Next up is the winner of UK and Hampton (GO HAMPTON!) on Saturday in Louisville in the Round of 32.
By Andy Smith