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Rutgers stuns No. 1 Purdue on Ron Harper Jr.’s buzzer-beater

Sportsnaut
Dec 9, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) celebrates with Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) after defeating the top ranked Purdue Boilermakers 70-69 at Jersey Mike's Arena. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) celebrates with Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) after defeating the top ranked Purdue Boilermakers 70-69 at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Harper Jr. made a 40-foot 3-pointer as time expired to lift undermanned Rutgers to a shocking 70-68 upset of No. 1 Purdue Thursday night in Piscataway, N.J.

Harper hit a turnaround jumper in the lane with 13.1 seconds left to put Rutgers ahead 67-66, but Trevion Williams’ running bank shot with 3.4 seconds to go gave the Boilermakers a one-point lead. Harper took the inbounds pass, dribbled past midcourt and let fly with a shot that beat the buzzer.

Harper finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

The Scarlet Knights (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten), who knocked off a top-ranked team for the first time in program history, were without star guard Geo Baker (hamstring), who missed his fourth consecutive game. The Scarlet Knights also had been dealing with a flu bug that had limited many of their players during practice, according to coach Steve Pikiell.

The heavily-favored Boilermakers (8-1, 1-1) were ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history, while Rutgers was coming off a 35-point drubbing at Illinois six days before.

Harper’s pass to a cutting Mawot Mag (12 points) for a dunk with 1:05 to go cut Purdue’s lead to 66-65. Cliff Omoruyi (11 points) then drew an offensive foul on Purdue’s Williams, who scored 21 points. However, Harper then turned the ball over with a bad pass on an apparent miscommunication, giving the Boilermakers the ball with 23 seconds to go.

But Jaden Ivey, who scored 15 points, traveled while trying to split a double-team, retuning the ball with 20 seconds left to the Scarlet Knights for Harper’s first clutch shot.

After Eric Hunter Jr. hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Purdue ahead 60-53 with 5:22 to go in the game, Rutgers’ Caleb McConnell (12 points) answered with a long jumper to cut the deficit to five.

Williams’ three-point play put the Boilermakers ahead, 63-55, but the Scarlet Knights got four points on one possession. Ralph Agee scored in the paint and was fouled, and Harper rebounded Agee’s missed free throw and got fouled. Harper made both free throws to trim Purdue’s lead to 63-59 with 4:09 left.

After a miss by Williams, Rutgers had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Ivey stole the ball from Omoruyi, who had just re-entered the game after being injured by an unintentional elbow from Zach Edey during a battle for a rebound. Ivey’s uncontested dunk made it 65-59 with 3:24 to go.

Purdue led 24-17 after Sasha Stefanovic’s trey with 9:32 left in the first half. But Rutgers rallied and eventually led 36-35 at intermission.

–Field Level Media