DETROIT — Purdue was clinging to a 2-point lead in the final seconds of its second-round NCAA Tournament matchup with Butler before Dakota Mathias hit the Boilermakers’ biggest shot of the season.
Mathias came off a Matt Haarms screen and buried a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 14.3 seconds remaining to put Purdue ahead by 5 points in its 76-73 victory. The Boilermakers were officially through to the Sweet 16 when Kamar Baldwin’s desperation heave from just inside of half court rolled off the rim as time expired.
Purdue center Isaac Haas did not play. That was expected after he suffered a broken right elbow Friday. The 7-foot-2 center suited up and joined the team on the bench.
Haarms, a redshirt freshman who stands at 7-foot-3, replaced Haas in the starting lineup. Haarms had 7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. His activity in the paint also resulted in several foul calls on Butler, particularly in the first half when Purdue reached the bonus with 5 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs committed 13 fouls in the opening 20 minutes.
Purdue’s 11 made free throws in the first half helped it take a 40-36 lead at the break despite a hot shooting start from Butler. The Bulldogs hit 4 of their first 5 attempts from 3-point range and finished the half shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2018
Why Purdue won: Offensive production
What Haas brings offensively is irreplaceable for Purdue. But playing for the first time without him this season, the Boilermakers found plenty of offense from other sources. The team as a whole remained confident, ran productive offensive sets and knocked down 50 percent of its shots in the win. Haas’ injury may be a noticeable detriment to Purdue at some point in the tournament, but it wasn’t Sunday.
What it means: Back to the Sweet 16
Purdue — the No. 2 seed in the East Regional — is back in the Sweet 16 for a second straight season and the 11th time in program history.
Who starred: Vincent Edwards
The senior forward was Purdue’s best player in the win. He had a team-high 20 points, doing so on just 8 shots from the field. He also made one of the biggest plays of the game defensively with a blocked shot in transition during the final minutes. Purdue outscored Butler by 17 points with Vincent Edwards on the floor.
Who struggled: Carsen Edwards
Carsen Edwards, the Boilermakers’ leading scorer (18.4 points per game) was the one player who looked a little lost playing without Haas. The inside-out combination between the two has helped Carsen Edwards get many open looks this season, but looks that weren’t there for him Sunday. He had 13 points, but needed 17 shots from the field to get there.
What’s next: Texas Tech
Purdue (30-6) will face Texas Tech (26-9) in Boston on Friday. The Red Raiders are the No. 3 seed in the East Regional. They advanced via wins over Stephen F. Austin and Florida in Dallas during the opening rounds.