BOSTON (AP) — Chris Beard did it to Purdue again.
The Texas Tech coach knocked the Boilermakers out of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, this time leading the third-seeded Red Raiders to a 78-65 victory to advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time in the basketball program’s 93-year history.
“We just made the — what’s it called? The Great Eight?” Beard asked his players at the postgame news conference.
“Elite,” guard Keenan Evans corrected him.
“The Elite Eight our second year together,” said Beard, who was with Arkansas-Little Rock when it beat Purdue in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. “Why shouldn’t we? We’ve got a great university. We play in the best league in college basketball. We’ve got really great players. We’re blessed to be here, but I think we’ve earned the right to be here.”
Evans had 12 of his 16 points in the second half, when Texas Tech scored 11 in a row to pull away. The Red Raiders (27-9) will play on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four against No. 1 seed Villanova, which advanced earlier Friday night with a 90-78 victory over West Virginia.
“They’ve been the No. 1 team the whole season and are great all-around,” Evans said. “They have a great point guard and great bigs that can shoot the ball, so we will just have to get back in the film room and study up on them and get some rest.”
Beard is in his second year in Lubbock after leaving Little Rock, which he left shortly after leading the Trojans to a double overtime upset over fifth-seeded Purdue two years ago. This one wasn’t close, thanks to a 52 percent second-half shooting percentage and a 34-30 rebounding edge.
“Completely different game, different teams,” Beard said, noting that four Red Raiders scored in double figures and another had nine points. “It’s our formula. It’s not a secret.”
Second-seeded Purdue (30-7) was hoping to join Villanova in the Elite Eight, getting 30 points from Carsen Edwards and 12 points and 13 rebounds from Vincent Edwards.
But Beard was in their way again.
“We really played in spurts today, just really never got that consistency,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. “They’re a very talented team, very athletic team, very well-coached, good defensive team, and they obviously got the best of us today.”
Texas Tech trailed for most of the first before scoring the last 10 points of the half to turn a five-point deficit into a 30-25 lead. The Red Raiders led 58-55 with 5:44 left when Evans hit two free throws and then a three pointer to start an 11-0 run that put the game away.
“I guess we can use it (as motivation), this feeling here,” Carsen Edwards said. “To have this feeling here, you learn from it to not have it again.”
Purdue center Isaac Haas, the team’s No. 2 scorer and rebounder, could only be a cheerleader — and a one-armed cheerleader, at that. After breaking his right elbow in the first-round game against Cal State-Fullerton, he tried to convince Painter he could play; the Purdue engineering department even pitched in, designing a special brace for his right arm.
But Haas remained on the bench, replaced by Matt Haarms, a redshirt freshman who at 7-foot-3 measures an inch taller but at 40 pounds lighter is hardly the force under the basket of that his senior teammate has been.
Haarms finished with four points and three rebounds.
“I hate to see great players not be able to play late in the season,” Beard said. “So we feel for Purdue not being full-strength.”