Kramer super in overtime
Purdue topples Texas A&M in battle of defensive titans
SPOKANE, Wash. — Chris Kramer ignored his coach’s final play call and demanded the ball with Purdue’s season on the line.
The two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year, the rugged soul of Boilermakers basketball with do-it-all leader Robbie Hummel out for the season, forgot he is just 6 feet 3 inches. Or, he didn’t care.
The bull in a basketball uniform plowed past one defender 4 inches taller than him and flipped in a layup over Texas A&M big man Bryan Davis, who is 6 inches taller, with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime yesterday. That sent the fourth-seeded Boilermakers into the South Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament with a 63-61 victory over the devastated Aggies.
“I had the ball and went right and crossed over to the left, and it parted like the Red Sea,’’ Kramer said of A&M’s defense.
The bruising, second-round game just about left dents in the arena’s floor.
The ending left Kramer pounding his massive chest. Then, delirious teammates pummeled him from front and back near midcourt.
“Bodies were clashing, both teams refused to lose,’’ he said. “And it came down to one play.’’
B.J. Holmes got a final chance to win it for fifth-seeded Texas A&M with a frantic 3-point try from in front of his bench at the buzzer, but it hit the rim to ensure a sixth regional appearance in 12 NCAA Tournaments dating to 1994 for Purdue (29-5).
The Boilermakers rallied from 11 points down in the second half and will face top-seeded Duke in Houston on Friday.
Davis had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Aggies (24-10), who were denied their second regional semifinal in four years.
Regulation was like rugby. Bodies were strewn across the floor.
It ended with Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson (11 points) blocking Donald Sloan under the basket with 31 seconds left. E’Twaun Moore was then stripped of the ball by Dash Harris. The Aggies inbounded with 1.1 seconds left, but Holmes’s off-balance heave banged off the glass.
The extra period had three ties, with the relentless Aggies taking 2-point leads and the unyielding Boilermakers answering each time.
Kramer tried to give his team the lead with under two minutes left in overtime with a shot over two Aggies in the lane. He missed that time and lost his sneaker — of course, he ran down to play defense without it. But freshman Khris Middleton put A&M back up with a jump hook from the baseline with 1:20 remaining.
Moore (15 points) answered with a jumper with one minute to go to make it 61-all.
Then, Davis backed in on the 6-10 Johnson, went under him to the basket, but was short against the rim on his bank shot with 17 seconds left.
Purdue got the rebound and called a timeout with 10.1 seconds remaining. Painter called for a play for Moore, but Kramer never gave up the ball once he got it back off his inbounds pass from halfcourt to Keaton Grant.
From the top of the key, Kramer switched hands on his dribble, drove past Nathan Walkup, and approached the 6-9 Davis. The shot soared over the leaping Davis’s fingertips, off the glass, and in.