I will go ahead and say it: Purdue was screwed over in its seeding during the 2010 NCAA Tournament. In 2000 Cincinnati had the National Player of the Year in Kenyon Martin. They were ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the season, including in the final regular season poll. Martin then broke his leg in the Conference USA Tournament and was out for the rest of the postseason.
You would think losing a player of such caliber, especially on a team that was not as deep as Purdue in 2010, would make for a more significant seed drop. Instead, they dropped to a mere 2 seed, and they were knocked off by Tulsa in round 2.
In 2010 Purdue lost Hummel, but still had two other eventual NBA players in JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, plus a career 1,000 point scorer in Keaton Grant, an eventual long-time European pro in Chris Kramer, and several solid role players (DJ Byrd, Ryne Smith, Lewis Jackson, Terone Johnson, etc.). You would think that with a #10 final ranking headed into the tournament that a four seed would be a stretch, but that is what we got.
Sure, Purdue struggled at home against Michigan State (an eventual Final Four team) and had an ugly loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Minnesota, but the media in general acted like Hummel was Kenyon Martin and Purdue had no hope of recovery. Many thought we would be a first round upset victim to Siena. We were still a good team. We may not have deserved the 1 seed we were cruising towards a few weeks earlier, but a four seed was a clear punishment.
It did set up one of the most memorable wins under Coach Painter.
#10 Purdue 63, #23 Texas A&M 61 (OT) – March 21, 2010 – NCAA Tournament Second Round, Spokane, Washington
This game was part of a very memorable day in Spokane, where Purdue’s last second win was complimented by an ending between Michigan State and Maryland where they traded haymakers in the final 30 seconds.
We all know about Purdue’s season. It is locked into our collective memories at this point. Texas A&M came in as a pretty solid team at 24-9. They had a young Khris Middleton, who only had three points but has become a two-time NBA all-star. They had an overtime loss at Texas when the Longhorns were No. 1 and had mostly struggled against ranked teams, but they had pushed West Virginia in a seven point loss earlier in the year and has nice non-conference wins over Minnesota and Clemson.
This game stands out in the “Sheer Guts” category for Purdue. It was a tense, physical game with not a lot of fouls, but every point and rebound was fiercely contested. Purdue struggled offensively early on as the Aggies got out to a 17-9 lead in the first eight minutes. Purdue cut it two just two a couple of times as the first half wound down, but Texas A&M remained in control. Naji Hibbert and Donald Sloan each hit three-pointers at 2:21 and 1:00 to put Texas A&M in front 30-22 before D.J. Byrd hit a three. A pair of free throws from Dash Harris gave Texas A&M a 32-25 halftime lead.
The second half did not start well for the Boilers, as Texas A&M moved in front by 11 at 40-29 on a basket from David Loubeau with 16:09 left. Purdue was down double digits at the first media timeout of the half and things were looking grim.
Enter Chris Kramer.
The senior guard had only four points at halftime, but he took over the remainder of the game by sheer force of will. He hit a pair of free throws with 15:41 left, scored on a drive 22 seconds later, then assisted on a JaJuan Johnson basket with 14:39 left to cut the lead to five. Another JJ basket made it an 8-0 run, then Ryne Smith hit a three after a Texas A&M basket to make it 42-40 Aggies with 13:12 left. After a stop Kramer then hit a rare three to put Purdue in front for the first time at 7-5 at 43-42. It was a 14-2 run in just over 3 minutes. Kramer scored seven point, assisted on another basket, and had a defensive rebound.
After the teams traded stops Byrd made it a 17-2 Purdue run with a three with 10:27 left. Unfortunately, Texas A&M woke up and went on an 8-0 run of its own. Bryan Davis made a layup with 8:24 left to put them back in front 50-46. Purdue then followed with a 9-0 run of its own and led 55-50 on a dunk by Grant with 4:33 left.
That’s when Purdue’s offense went cold again, and The Aggies climbed back in it. They would tie it at 55-55 on a basket from Donald Sloan with 1:27 left and the following 87 seconds would be incredibly tense. E’Twaun missed a three, then Sloan was blocked by JJ at the rim. Purdue took possession with 31 seconds left, but E’twaun was stripped of the ball by Dash Harris and Texas A&M had a chance to win it, but missed at the buzzer.
The overtime was one of the most tense extra periods in Purdue history. Texas A&M scored first with Davis asserting his will inside and getting a dunk with 3:42 left. Kramer scored to tie it on an assist from LewJack, but Davis followed with another dunk with 2:47 left. Kramer then drew a foul and hit two clutch free throws with 2:31 left to make it 59-59. After each team got a stop it was Lobeau’s turn to get a hard earned bucket inside and make it 61-59 with 1:22 left.
Needing a basket Purdue went to E’Twaun. His jumper with 61 seconds left gave him 15 points and we had our third tie of the overtime. Sloan missed a layup with 45 seconds left, but Davis got the rebound and reset the offense. Davis then missed his own layup and E’Twaun got the board with 19 seconds left. Purdue would call a timeout, setting up another chance for Kramer to become a legend.
Kramer was not a great scorer in his career, but could get points when needed and could even hit the occasional three. On a team with E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Keaton Grant, all excellent scorers in their career at Purdue, it is telling that Painter put the ball in Kramer’s hands.
Kramer crosses over his man, drive’s the line, and finishes a contested layup at the rim with 4.3 seconds left, sending Purdue fans all over the country into bedlam. It wasn’t over though. The Aggies had one last shot and got the ball up the floor way too quickly. B.J. Holmes got an excellent look from three in the corner, but missed as time expired.
Watching at home in Indy I basically passed out on the floor. Jumboheroes was lucky enough to be watching the game at Jake’s on campus:
After the devastation of the injury that occurred early in the season the season seemed over. Sure, there was talent on the team but when something like that happens you wonder if the psychological impact will end the season. I watched this game at Jake’s and when Kramer hit that layup and the A&M bucket fell short I hugged a random stranger. That’s Boilermaker basketball.
Here is Painter on why he went with Kramer:
As I said, this was a sheer guts win. Kramer finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. E’Twaun had 15, but struggled and went 7 of 17 from the floor. Neither team shot well, but D.J. Byrd had a quiet 10 points with a critical pair of threes. Future Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said it best:
“It took an unbelievably tough team to beat us. Purdue is TOUGH.”
Purdue would lose a week later to Duke in another “what if” game. If it has a 3 seed in another region, maybe the Final Four still happens. Who knows.