LOUISVILLE — Bounced from the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 the past two seasons, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline and their Purdue teammates would not be denied a third time – even after blowing an 18-point lead.
Edwards scored 29 points, Cline tallied 27 and the Boilermakers controlled overtime for a 99-94 victory over Tennessee on Thursday in a South Regional semifinal at the KFC Yum Center.
Third-seeded Purdue (26-9) – which lost round-of-16 games to Kansas in 2017 and Texas Tech last year – is in a regional final for the first time since 2000 and will face the Oregon-Virginia winner on Saturday. The Boilermakers are seeking their first Final Four appearance since 1980.
Admiral Schofield – held scoreless in a dismal first half – and Grant Williams both scored 21 points to lead second-seeded Tennessee (31-6).
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Cline’s jumper gave Purdue a 51-33 lead with 16:11 left in regulation before Tennessee rallied, taking a 70-67 advantage on Schofield’s 3-pointer with 5:23 left.
The rest of regulation was a thrilling back-and-forth, featuring five ties and two lead changes. Williams’ follow dunk gave the Volunteers an 82-80 lead with 8.8 seconds left. But Edwards was fouled on a 3-point try from the right corner by Lamonte Turner with 1.7 seconds left, missed the first free throw and then calmly sank the last two to tie the score at 82 and force overtime.
The Boilermakers never trailed in the extra period, taking an 83-82 lead on Matt Haarms’ free throw with 4:37 left. The 7-foot-3 Netherlands native added a dunk that gave Purdue a 91-84 edge with 1:35 remaining.
It was fitting Edwards hit the team’s last foul shot of the night.