NCAA March Madness: Purdue Beat Vermont 80-70, Middle Tennessee Beats Minnesota
Vincent Edwards scored 21 points, 15 of them in the second half to help lead Purdue to an 80-70 victory over Vermont in Milwaukee on Thursday night for its first NCAA Tournament win in five years.
NCAA March Madness: Purdue Top Vermont 80-70, Middle Tennessee Top Vermont
Caleb Swanigan contributed 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for the fourth-seeded Boilermakers (26-7, 1st in Big Ten), who lost to Arkansas-Little Rock in double-overtime in the first round of last year’s tournament. Dakota Mathias added 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“It feels good but I don’t think we want to stop here,” Mathias said. “We play a good opponent the next game, have a quick turnaround. We’ve got to take care of ourselves and get back at it.”
Purdue will next face the winner of Nevada-Iowa State in the second round.
The game marked Vermont’s (29-6, 1st in America East) first loss of 2017. The Catamounts had the country’s longest active win streak with 21 victories.
Anthony Lamb recorded 20 points and nine rebounds for Vermont, and Trae Bell-Haynes added 15 points, seven boards and six assists.
The Boilermakers seemed to have an advantage over the Catamounts in player size and strength alone, particularly around the rim, thanks to players like Swanigan and 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas. However, Vermont played tough perimeter defense.
Nevertheless, Edwards and Swanigan proved to be too much for Vermont. Edwards scored Purdue’s first eight points in the second half, helping the Boilermakers take a 45-38 lead.
Purdue responded to nearly every single one of the Catamounts’ charges.
A jumper by Lamb cut Purdue’s lead to five, but Carsen Edwards and P.J. Thompson each scored a 3 to give the Boilermakers a 76-65 lead with 1:56 left.
Purdue finished with a 38-28 rebounding advantage and outscored Vermont 42-24 in the paint.
It marked Purdue’s first NCAA Tournament victory since they defeated Saint Mary’s in the first round in 2012.
Vermont senior Kurt Steidl left in the first half with a left leg injury. Steidl went down after he jumped out to defend a 3-point attempt with about 2 minutes left in the first half. He headed to the locker room with a limp after being attended to by a trainer.
One of the other big March Madness surprises on Thursday was No. 12-seed Middle Tennessee, (31-4, 1st in Conference USA) who upset the fifth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-10, 4th in Big Ten) 81-72.
Last year, the Blue Raiders were a No. 15-seed and shocked everyone by defeating second-seeded Michigan State.
Reggie Upshaw scored 19 points and Giddy Potts added 15 for Middle Tennessee, who advance to face fourth-seeded Butler in the second round on Saturday.
Amir Coffey had 17 points to lead Minnesota, while Dupree McBrayer added 16.
Also advancing to the second round is 11th-seeded Xavier, (22-13) who defeated sixth-seeded Maryland (24-9) 76-65 on Thursday thanks to 18 points and seven rebounds from Sean O’Mara. The Musketeers next face Florida State on Saturday.
The fifth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, (23-10) meanwhile, edged the 12th-seeded NC Wilmington Seahawks (29-6) 76-71. Virginia next visit the Florida Gators on Saturday night.
Finally, a last-minute mistake from Vanderbilt junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis caused the Commodores (19-16) to lose to Northwestern (24-11) 68-66 on Thursday. Fisher-Davis intentionally fouled Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh with 14.6 seconds remaining after scoring a team-leading 22 points.
The Wildcats, who are playing in their first-ever NCAA Tournament, next face top-seed Gonzaga on Saturday.