WATCH: Rutgers upsets No.1 Purdue over 3-point Ron Harper Jr. beaten by buzzer from almost halfway through


Rutgers forward Ron Harper Jr. drilled a deep 3-point buzzer score just inside half of the field Thursday night to elevate the Scarlet Knights to a thrilling 70-68 upset against No.1 Purdue . Harper scored a high 30 points to give the program its first-ever victory against a No.1-ranked team. The Boilermakers lost for the first time this season after leading by 10 with 8:34 remaining and by eight with 4: 38 to play ahead of a furious late Scarlet Knights rally

Shortly after Harper’s shot crossed the net, students at Rutgers Athletic Center stormed the pitch to celebrate a monumental moment for the program. Rutgers came in as a 13.5-point underdog after a 35-point loss to Illinois last week to start the Big Ten game. The Scarlet Knights also lost to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass in November and placed 217th in the NET ahead of Thursday’s game.

But none of that mattered once they engaged the Boilermakers in battle. Rutgers took a seven-point lead at the end of the first half and shot 52 percent from the floor for the game. That hot shot helped him resist a 22-4 deficit in second chance points and Purdue’s 31-5 advantage in bench points.

With the game on the line, second-year Purdue star Jaden Ivey traveled while trying to escape a trap with 20 seconds left, giving Rutgers possession as he faced a deficit. of a point. On the possession that followed, Harper pierced the go-ahead basket. However, Purdue responded by entering Trevion Williams, who scored one with 3.4 seconds left to give Purdue a 68-67 lead.

Rutgers didn’t have any downtime, but Harper split a doubles team by Ivey and Ethan Morton as he crossed halfway. Then, with less than a second left on the clock, he unleashed a shot from the “R” logo block in the middle of the field. It erupted and chaos ensued.

Mawot Mag and Caleb McConnell added 12 points for Rutgers, and Cliff Omoruyi had 11. Williams led Purdue with 21.

Special moment for Rutgers

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the end of the 2019-20 season, it forced the college basketball playoffs to be canceled and robbed Rutgers of what likely would have been his first appearance in the tournament. the NCAA since 1991. The Scarlet Knights followed up this disappointing end to their season with another strong season in 2020-21 and made Big Dance 2021 the No. 10 seed. But with mostly empty gyms the last season, the ability to celebrate one of the best eras in program history was limited.

In the midst of a dismal start to the season, it looked like the magic was running out and Rutgers was in danger of backing down to the bottom of the Big Ten. But Harper, who is a fourth-year starter who helped elevate the depths program, gave him a historic moment on Thursday. It remains to be seen if this team has what it takes to be as competitive in the rigors of the Big Ten game as the 2019-20 and 2020-21 teams, but the Scarlet Knights loyalists could finally let go and celebrate everything the program has. done over the past two years because of the timing that Harper provided.

Regardless of what happens with that team the rest of the season, Thursday’s victory will remain one of the best moments of a memorable era of Rutgers basketball.

Purdue’s defense pays the price

Just six days after struggling in the second half against Iowa and letting the Hawkeyes return to a game Purdue led by 13 at halftime, the Boilermakers once again suffered too many defensive shortcomings. Purdue got off against Iowa, despite the Hawkeyes hitting 53.1 percent of their shots in the second half.

But Rutgers made Purdue pay, as the Scarlet Knights did their last six looks from the field. The Boilermakers have proven their offensive courage several times this season, but the defense has some catching up to do.

Revolving door at n ° 1

Gonzaga started the season number one until giving way to Duke following a loss to the Blue Devils on November 26. Duke only held the spot for a week before losing to Ohio State last Tuesday, which saw Purdue take the top spot.

With victories over North Carolina, Villanova and Florida State under his belt, Purdue seemed like a safe bet to hold onto the spot for at least a few weeks as he walked through a seemingly manageable part of his schedule. But after such an astonishing shattering loss, the Boilermakers should be prepared to step down. So who will step in to replace them? That could depend on the outcome of Sunday’s game between No.2 Baylor and No.6 Villanova.

If the Bears win this game, they’ll be 9-0 and likely have the chance to sit in the main seat. But if the reigning national champions lose this game, there will be at least half a dozen teams with a reasonable case to be No.1.


Evelyn C. Tobin