No. 5 Purdue 73, Alabama 65
Purdue had to overcome both a big deficit and an Alabama crowd riding a Heisman-Trophy adrenaline rush.
Robbie Hummel scored 23 points and the No. 5 Boilermakers used stifling defense to rally from a 16-point second half deficit and beat the Crimson Tide 73-65 on Saturday night. They came into an arena charged by the announcement that tailback Mark Ingram won the school's first Heisman minutes before tipoff.
``We heard the place erupt,'' Purdue guard Chris Kramer said. ``It really got them going.''
But the veteran Boilermakers (9-0) took Alabama's best shots, solved the Tide's full-court press and finally assumed control with relentless defense. They held Alabama (6-3) without a field goal over the final 8:45.
The Tide made just three baskets in the final 14 minutes, seldom getting open looks after leading 48-32 early in the second half.
``It was amazing,'' Purdue coach Matt Painter said. ``It was just one of those games where we've shown nothing in the game to indicate (a turnaround) was going to happen. We were down and there was no indication that we were going to turn it on.''
Purdue scored 10 consecutive points to grab the lead for good on D.J. Byrd's free throw with 4:30 left, and Kramer converted two straight steals into layups for a 69-64 edge with 2:41 remaining. E'Twaun Moore and Kramer each added a pair of free throws in the final 57 seconds.
The Boilermakers passed the test in their first game on an opponent's home court. They dominated the boards 23-12 in the second half, getting three straight baskets off offensive rebounds during one stretch.
``We really struggled in the first half, offensively, defensively, all the way around,'' said Hummel, who started the rally with a 3-pointer. ``The team has got great heart, great character, and it was able to show through tonight. It's hard to come back on the road and win, but we did.
``Some of that is because of maturity. We've been here before.''
Moore scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half, Kramer finished with 14 and JaJuan Johnson added 10. Hummel, who had two steals and two blocks, and Johnson both had nine rebounds.
Mikhail Torrance led Alabama with 18 points, while JaMychal Green had 16 and Justin Knox tied a career high with 14.
Purdue tied its fourth-best start in school history with the 1992-93 and 1937-38 teams.
``Like great teams do, they dug in,'' Tide coach Anthony Grant said. ``They handled the adversity and their defense really won the game for them.''
The hoops team gave fans plenty more to cheer about for awhile after the Heisman buzz, leading 37-28 at the half and flirting with its second win over a ranked team in Grant's debut season on the sideline.
``The first half, we played like our hair was on fire,'' Kramer said. ``We were trying to make individual plays.''
Alabama made only nine of 28 shots after that, and Purdue cut down on the mistakes.
Hummel's 3-pointer with just over five minutes left tied it at 64. D.J. Byrd made only one of three free throw attempts after getting fouled from long range, but it still gave the Boilermakers the lead for good.
``They picked up the intensity and we didn't,'' Torrance said. ``I feel like we became complacent. We had a big lead against a good team like that, and they didn't get rattled.''
Both teams had double-digit leads in the first half, Alabama forcing 11 turnovers behind Grant's aggressive defense. That's one shy of Purdue's season average coming in.
The Boilermakers started out 11-1 before the Tide's press started to force mistakes. That helped spark a 23-2 Alabama run dominated by Knox and Torrance, who combined for 25 first-half points.
The Tide had earlier beaten then-No. 15 Michigan, but couldn't pull off another upset.
``We saw a great opportunity here,'' Grant said. ``It's a learning process at the same time where we didn't play the way we needed to play for 40 minutes.''