Purdue shifts focus to Elite 8 and Virginia after dramatic win
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Purdue Boilermakers returned to the scene of their biggest win in decades knowing a chance to make more history is still ahead of them.
The Boilers practiced at the KFC Yum! Center Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after beating Tennessee 99-94 in overtime to advance to the NCAA Elite Eight against Virginia.
Senior guard Ryan Cline was up late Thursday night, catching up with all of the congratulatory messages after pouring in a career-high 27 points on 7 of 10 shooting from behind the three-point arc.
“I had a lot of people texting me and reaching out to me,” Cline said. “There were a couple of NBA players and NFL players that reached out, which was pretty cool. It’s something you get to take in in the moment, but it’s a new day and we’re preparing for Virginia. We’re just excited to be able to practice another day.”
Being able to move on after a landmark win is critical, especially against the number one seed Cavaliers.
“We had a good time last night, celebrating with our friends and families,” said sophomore guard Nojel Eastern. “But unfortunately, we just have to throw it out the window, so we can just prepare for UVA.”
Treating Saturday’s South regional final as just another game with high stakes will be a challenge.
“I would say it’s just another game, but it’s another big game,” sophomore center Matt Haarms said. “I feel like every single game you have to treat the same just because every single game you have to approach at a high level. Me saying ‘just another game’ sounds like I’m downplaying it, but I’m really not just because I approach every other game with such high respect as well.”
“I just continue to try to do things the same way and prepare the same way,” said junior guard Carsen Edwards.
That ‘same way’ approach has the Boilers one win away from the program’s first trip to the Final Four in nearly four decades.
“Yeah, that’s cool,” Edwards said. “We’re just focusing on this one game here and just the next 40 minutes for us.”
Saturday’s match-up also pits two former Indy-area high school stars and AAU teammates against each in Cline and Virginia junior guard Kyle Guy, the 2016 Indiana Mister Basketball at Lawrence Central High School.
“I don’t know for sure if we’re going to be guarding each other,” said Carmel product Cline. “But it’s going to be a lot of fun to see an old friend. We’re meeting on the biggest stage, so it’s going to be something really exciting.”
“I’ve always wanted to play against Purdue or IU in the [ACC-Big Ten Challenge], so we can travel there,” Guy said. “But this is as good as it gets.”