Painter and Boilers finally get over Sweet 16 hurdle


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – MARCH 28: Grady Eifert #24 of the Purdue Boilermakers reacts after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in overtime of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional at the KFC YUM! Center on March 28, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – March Madness at its finest.

Purdue and Tennessee’s regional semifinal game Thursday night had absolutely everything.

The Boilermakers blew an 18-point lead before Carmel’s Ryan Cline delivered an out-of-body shooting experience to rescue the team.

Purdue is finally on to the Elite Eight after almost 20 years.

“It’s something that’s awesome,” Cline said.  “Not just for me and this team, but for the fan base and for the entire university.  We’re all really happy and we’re excited to be able to play another day.”

“That’s crazy,” said guard Carsen Edwards.  “It’s a blessing just to be able to be here and just compete at this high level like this with a good group of guys.  I love all of them.  We’re just going to keep fighting and keep competing.”

“I think it’s huge,” center Matt Haarms said.  “It’s funny because this is the team everybody said wasn’t going to do it.  This is the team that everybody said was going to miss the tournament and now we’re here in the Elite Eight.  I think it says something.  Everybody wanted to tell us that we weren’t going to be anything this year, but we won the Big Ten title and now we’re in the Elite Eight.”

“It’s difficult,” said head coach Matt Painter.  “People don’t realize it.  People talk about getting out of the Sweet 16 and getting to the Elite Eight.  Getting to the Sweet 16 is tough.  Give our guys credit.  This was one of those games that could have gone either way.”

Every player said getting their coach over the Sweet 16 hump was a huge motivator.

Painter was 0-4 in Sweet 16 games before Thursday, losing in the regional semifinal round in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018.

Now they’ll play to get over the Elite Eight hump.

The Boilermakers will take on the South’s top seed Virginia on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. with a trip to the Final Four in Minneapolis on the line.

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