Purdue had a disappointing Senior Day losing 71-68 in overtime to Rutgers, dropped it to a sub .500 league play to end the season, which may have eliminated it from NCAA Tournament contention.
"This wasn't one of those game grinder type games that neither team could score in," head coach Matt Painter said.
The game was saw a lot of action through free throws throughout the match up.
"Being able to get to the free-throw line and convert was huge," Painter said.
Both Purdue (16-15, 9-11 Big Ten) and Rutgers (20-11, 11-9) utilized free throws to tie the game or take the lead. The Boilermakers sank 81% of free throws while Rutgers made 57%. A free throw from sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. sent the game into overtime, but he missed the second that might have secured a win.
The Boilermakers established a lead early in the first half that the Scarlet Knights quickly closed and surpassed. The Knights were able to hold on to that lead for most of the half, despite many attempts from the Boilers to close the gap. A jumper from Rutgers and a missed buzzer beater from senior forward Evan Boudreaux sealed Purdue's fate in overtime.
Purdue was able to pull slightly ahead after a dunk from junior center Matt Haarms propelled the team forward. Then the lead changed once again.
Neither team was ever able to establish a sizable lead, and that lead changed 11 times in the game.
Purdue's defense struggled to block Rutgers from both inside and outside of the paint. The Scarlet Knights ended the game with a field-goal percentage of 44%.
Purdue ended the game at 34%.
The Boilers spent the first half of the game getting out-rebounded. In the second half they found more rebounds but were still unable to get more than the Knights. Purdue ended the game with 39 rebounds compared to Rutgers 42.
"I think it's a big opportunity to miss out on, especially closing up the regular season," said Hunter.
When asked at the end of his press availability on Saturday afternoon about whether his team had to win the Big Ten Tournament to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, Painter's answer was simple.
"Yes," he said bluntly.
Then he was asked if he thought his team was capable of such.
"If we win four in a row we can."
So, the the tournament that starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday for Purdue, may dictate how fans evaluate the season's success or lack thereof.
• Purdue fell to Rutgers 71-68 in overtime to fall to 16-15 overall and 9-11 in the Big Ten Conference … the Boilermakers will be the No. 10 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, playing Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. ET.
• Rutgers has won two straight against Purdue, but the Boilermakers still lead the all-time series by a 12-3 advantage.
• Purdue fell to 2-13 this year when shooting a lower field goal percentage than its opponent.
• Purdue freshmen and sophomores scored 50 of Purdue's 68 points.
• Purdue fell to 27-6 since the start of last season when attempting more free throws than its opponent … over the last six games, Purdue is now 76 of 94 (.809) from the free throw line.
• Purdue is 5-9 this year in games decided by single-digits.
• Purdue's four overtime games are tied for the second most in a single season … Purdue's six overtime sessions are tied for the third most in school history.
• Sasha Stefanovic scored 22 points, one shy of his career high.
– Purdue Athletics Communications contributed to this report.
The game got off to an quick start after sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic sank a 3-pointer 15 seconds into the game.
Senior forward Evan Boudreaux tied the game 15-15 with a free throw that was met with thunderous applause for the crowd. A 3 from freshman guard Isaiah Thompson put the Boilers just ahead to get the lead.
The Scarlet Knights pulled forward again after a foul called on sophomore forward Trevion Williams gave Rutgers two free throws.
The Boilermakers continued to struggle to make 3-pointers throughout the half but were able to find opportunities to attempt such shots.
Purdue struggled to out rebound its opponent with only 13 rebounds to Rutger's 23.