WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Cam Spencer’s 3-pointer by 13.3 seconds put Rutgers ahead, and No. 1 Purdue failed to convert its last two chances Monday night as the Scarlet Knights held on to a shocking 65-64 away win.
It’s the second straight season that coach Steve Pikiell’s team has upset leaders Purdue. Last season, the Scarlet Knights needed a half-court buzzer beater on their home court to earn the school’s first win against a No. 1 team.
This time, Rutgers (10-4, 2-1 Big Ten) made it in front of the 49th straight sell-out crowd at Mackey Arena.
“You need everyone in the squad to win a game like this away from home,” said Pikiell. “And everyone was ready to get involved.”
Spencer finished with 14 points while Paul Mulcahy had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
“We know what’s coming. What Rutgers did tonight didn’t shock us,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. “If we were going to war, we’d stop by New Jersey and pick them up.”
The Boilermakers (13-1, 2-1) were led by Zach Edey, who overcame early foul problems to finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds. It just wasn’t enough to end an incredible second-half rally with a 10-point deficit. New Mexico is now the last remaining undefeated team in Division I.
“You want them to be physically and mentally tougher than before,” Painter said of his team. “Then clean up the sloppiness.”
Rutgers controlled the game for most of the night, taking a 34-24 lead at halftime and fending off the Boilermakers as they charged back. Purdue equalized by 52 points and eventually took the lead on Brandon Newman’s tied 3-pointer at 4:45 to play.
Mulcahy responded with the Scarlet Knights’ next 10 points, giving Rutgers a 62-57 lead with 2:22 to play. Purdue responded with four straights to make it 62-61, and when Mulcahy missed a short jumper with 54 seconds left, Edey snagged the rebound, Purdue called a timeout and newcomer Fletcher Loyer fired the go-3 with 29.8 seconds left.
But Spencer made his 3 after another time out and then watched as Newman missed a 3. And after Rutgers turned it over with 0.4 seconds left on an inbounds play, the Boilermakers couldn’t get the ball to Edey for a final shot.
“He played well throughout the game and he’s not just a shooter,” Pikiell said of Spencer. “He leads the league in steals and does a lot for us. At the end he says, ‘I’ll do that.’ He’s a very confident kid.”
The Scarlet Knights defeated 14 ranked opponents in the Pikiell era, upset a No. 1 team for the first time in school history, and now they’ve done it again. Rutgers appears to be on course for a third straight school-record NCAA tournament.
“We are three games in the best league in the country,” said Pikiell. “We’re good, but it’s a long, long season.”
“This league is tough,” he said. “Every team has different problems.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.