Purdue led 6th ranked Kansas for 37 minutes Sunday night before the Jayhawks finally swooped in and claimed a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tourney. Kansas beat Purdue, 63-60.
Purdue senior forward Robbie Hummel played an incredible first half in which he only missed one shot, scoring 22 of his game-high 26 points before intermission.
"I love the effort our team gave," said Hummel, reflecting on his final game for Purdue. "I'm extremely proud of our team and what we did. It's not like I'm disappointed in the guys for losing that game. Kansas is very good. We were just a play or two short."
The Jayhawks took their first lead of the game with 3:04 left on a three-pointer by Elijah Johnson, who led Kansas (29-6) with 18 points. Purdue (22-13) struggled to get good shots offensively in the closing minutes.
"It was more a chess match," said senior point guard Lewis Jackson, held to just five points on 2-for-11 shooting. "They kept going from a box in one, to a triangle and two, to man-to-man. It kind of kept us stagnant at the end. We didn't know what they were in. We would draw something up and then we would have to pull back and try to figure something else out. You have to tip your hat to Kansas for playing the strategic game there."
Kansas turned a pair of missed 3-pointers and a Jackson turnover into fast break dunks and layups for the Jayhawks final three baskets. Purdue needed a three-pointer to force overtime out of a timeout with 2.5 seconds left. D.J. Byrd threw a half court pass to senior guard Ryne Smith on the right wing. Smith's final shot at Purdue was just a bit too hard off the glass as time expired.
"That's the best look we were going to get with two seconds," said Smith. "We had a chance. It just didn't fall."
Kansas advances to play North Carolina State Friday in St. Louis in the Sweet 16. Purdue is now 2-3 all-time vs. Kansas.
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