No. 13 North Texas holds off late comeback to upset No. 4 Purdue in OT

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

North Texas has its first NCAA tournament win in school history.

The No. 13 seed Mean Green held off a second-half comeback attempt by No. 4 Purdue and then pulled away in overtime to advance to the second round in the South Region with a 78-69 win.

Purdue trailed by eight at halftime and slowly chipped away at North Texas' lead over the course of the second half. But the Boilermakers missed three consecutive free throws inside the final five minutes and couldn't take the lead despite getting the game tied at 57-57 with 3:24 to play and then at 61-61 with 24 seconds to go.

North Texas had two chances to win in regulation but Purdue deflected the ball out of bounds on the first possession and James Reese's buzzer-beater missed the mark.

UNT was on the mark in overtime. Thomas Bell started the scoring in overtime with a three and Purdue didn't score until there were less than 30 seconds remaining. By the time the Boilermakers got on the board in the extra period, UNT had already established a four-possession lead and the game was a formality.

North Texas's Javion Hamlet reacts to fans during the first half of a first-round game against Purdue in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
North Texas and Javion Hamlet are in the second round of the NCAA tournament. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Two top Big Ten teams go down

Purdue's loss followed Ohio State's stunning loss earlier Friday. The No. 2-seeded Buckeyes lost Friday afternoon to No. 15 Oral Roberts. While Purdue's defeat isn't as big of an upset — the Boilermakers were favored by fewer than 10 points — it's still a shocker given the way that Purdue had played at the end of the season.

The Boilermakers won their final five games of the regular season and took Ohio State to overtime in the Big Ten tournament. That late-season push meant Purdue rose to a No. 4 seed in the tournament and seemed to get a favorable path to the Sweet 16.

That path is clearly gone now, though freshman Jaden Ivey did his best to bring Purdue back. Ivey score 26 points and was the one that got Purdue tied at 57-57 with an incredible layup. But he missed the free throw after he was fouled. Had Purdue gotten the lead at that point, could it have held on for the win?

Javion Hamlet scores 24

North Texas’ Javion Hamlet scored 24 points as his dad was in attendance while wearing a shirt with Javion on the front and taking photos and videos with his iPad. It was beautiful.

Hamlet was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line and also had 12 rebounds and five assists. James Reese and Thomas Bell each had 16 points as North Texas got 71 of its 78 points from its five starters.

Friday night’s game was North Texas’ fourth NCAA tournament game overall and its first since 2010. The Mean Green had never been seeded above No. 15 until 2021 and had never kept it close in any of those games. The closest game for the Mean Green was a 15-point loss to Memphis in the first round of the 2007 tournament.

Now North Texas will play either Winthrop or Villanova on Sunday for the chance to go to the Sweet 16.

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