How Rutgers beat Purdue and UConn's women fell on the night of upheaval

The No. 1-ranked Purdue men’s team and the third-ranked Connecticut Indomitable Women both faced unranked opponents on Thursday night. ...


The No. 1-ranked Purdue men’s team and the third-ranked Connecticut Indomitable Women both faced unranked opponents on Thursday night. The results might have seemed predictable.

The results were anything but.

Purdue was an 11-and-a-half point favorite for his trip to Rutgers, who came in with an uninspiring 4-4 ​​record and a loss to Lafayette on his resume. But after a 30-point individual effort – and a shot from almost halfway to the buzzer – from Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers scored a stunning 70-68 victory.

UConn, meanwhile, had a stunning 239-game winning streak against unranked opponents during his visit to Georgia Tech (6-2) – a streak that dated back to 2012. But playing without injured star Paige Bueckers, UConn lost hands down, 57 -44.

So what happened?

Purdue and Rutgers have stayed pretty close throughout, in part because Purdue didn’t shoot well: 41% from the ground and 27% from 3 points. The other key factor was forward Harper Jr., son of the great NBA: he finished with a career-high 30 points, on 10 shots of 15 and 10 rebounds.

Still, Purdue appeared to lock in the game with a layup that gave him the lead with four seconds left. With no downtime, Rutgers quickly grabbed the ball and Harper dribbled across the field. Right after crossing the middle of the field, he escaped from his defender and released a shot. He came in and Rutgers won 70-68. Harper’s teammates chased him into the backcourt, where they were swallowed by fans who stormed the pitch.

It was the program’s first victory against a No.1 team.

Harper is a senior who has improved every year at Rutgers. Last spring, he helped the team host their first NCAA tournament in 30 years.

He said he felt that the winning shot would go when he left his hand.

“It looked so good, it felt good,” he said. “And I hit half a court today on the shootaround.”

Purdue, where Glenn Robinson, Rick Mount and Joe Barry Carroll played, had never been ranked No.1. The Boilermakers are almost certain to lose that ranking when the new Associated Press poll is released on Monday.

UConn was in a more precarious position before his game at Georgia Tech. He was playing his first game without Bueckers, who injured his leg in the last minute of a 19-point win over Notre Dame on Sunday. First-year National Player of the Year, Bueckers averaged 21 points and also led the Huskies in assists and steals. Her injury, a broken knee, will keep her from going out for six to eight weeks, and without it UConn has struggled to gain points, energy and answers.

UConn naturally leaned heavily on Bueckers, to the point that coach Geno Auriemma had said he was reluctant to take her out of matches, even matches like the one against Notre Dame that were already sewn up. Now UConn seems to be in deep trouble without it.

After three close quarters Thursday night, UConn looked just out of gas. Georgia Tech led the Huskies, 18-5, in the fourth quarter, when UConn shot 2 for 10 from the field. Guard Christyn Williams was UConn’s top scorer, but she had just 13 points and was 1 of 8 of 3.

UConn’s point total was his lowest since a 48-42 loss to Rutgers on February 27, 2006. He hadn’t lost to an unranked opponent since his fall to St. John’s in February 2012.

“We are disorganized as a group at the moment, from coaching to bottom” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the loss. “There’s no idea how we’re going to perform, how we’re going to get a bucket, who’s going to get it for us.”

More astonishing, however, could have been Auriemma’s suggestion that he might not have a solution.

“I don’t think it’s going to be fixed, really not,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. Coaches are supposed to be optimistic. I am too old to be optimistic. I am realistic. I really believe what I see. I’m not trying to make up what I see and pretend it’s something else. I know what I am seeing.

“I’ve generally been good enough over the years to improve players,” he added. “We get some really good players coming out of high school, but they just get better and better every year. And at the moment, that is not happening.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How Rutgers beat Purdue and UConn's women fell on the night of upheaval
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