NICEVILLE, Florida (AP) — Eric Hunter Jr. and Jahaad Proctor each scored 12 points, including crucial free throws in the final two minutes, as Purdue upset No. 20 VCU 59-56 on Friday night in the Emerald Coast Classic.
The win put Purdue (4-2) in the championship game Saturday against Florida State and handed VCU (6-1) its first loss. The teams traded the lead 13 times and were tied 14 times in a game not decided until a potential game-tying 3-point shot by VCU’s De’Riante Jenkins went wide with 4 second left. Hunter grabbed the rebound and it was all over.
Hunter gave the Boilermakers the lead for good 56-55 with 1:37 left by sinking two free throws. Proctor then made three out of four free throws down the stretch.
Marcus Santos-Silva led the Rams with 19 points but missed three of four free throws in the final 1:16. No other VCU players scored in double figures.
The only other Boilermaker in double figures was Trevion Williams with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, but he fouled out with nearly five minutes left to play.
Purdue: Upsetting a ranked opponent is a relief for the rebuilding Boilermakers as their only other victories have come against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Chicago State and Jacksonville State, none with winning records. Purdue has an opportunity to gain additional momentum before facing defending national champion Virginia on Dec. 4 in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge by winning the tournament championship game against Florida State. The Seminoles knocked off No. 17 Tennessee on Friday. It will be a rematch for the Boilermakers, who lost to Florida State last season in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Then it’s on to Virginia, which eliminated Purdue from the NCAA Tournament last season with an 80-75 overtime victory in an Elite 8 game.
VCU: The upset loss to Purdue snapped VCU’s season-opening six-game winning streak and could threaten the Rams’ national ranking. It was the first time in school history that the Rams had been 6-0. That run included a signature victory over then-No. 23 LSU on Nov. 13. They’ll have an opportunity to get back on track, though, in the tournament consolation game against another nationally ranked team in Tennessee. It’ll be the Rams only remaining game against a Power 5 conference team during the regular season.
Purdue advances to the tournament championship game on Saturday against Florida State.
VCU plays in the tournament consolation game on Saturday against No. 17 Tennessee.