Just when it appeared Purdue would give away its second-round game against Saint Mary’s, the Boilermakers took it right back.
Tenth-seeded Purdue fought back for a 72-69 triumph after surrendering an 11-point lead in the final 4½ minutes.
Next for the Boilers: No. 2 seed Kansas on Sunday.
Purdue, 22-12, needed free throws by Lewis Jackson with 22 seconds remaining to retake the lead at 70-69.
After Saint Mary’s Jorden Page air-balled an open three from the wing, senior forward Robbie Hummel knocked two free throws with 8 seconds remaining for a three-point lead.
Plenty of time remained for the Gaels and their stellar point guard, Matthew Dellavedova, to get a good look.
That’s what happened. Dellavedova drove and kicked to an open Rob Jones, who had been Saint Mary’s primary scoring source for the evening. But Jones’ shot from just right of the top of the key bounced off the iron as the buzzer sounded, leaving him with 23 points and eliminating the Gaels.
Purdue won an opening game for the 13th straight time, a streak that dates to 1993.
Two years ago, the Boilermakers reached the Sweet 16, but last year they fell victim to the same team — VCU in the second round — that denied Kansas a trip to the Final Four.
Purdue-KU will be the third meeting between the programs in NCAA Tournament play.
In 1994, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson poured in 44 points and current Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin made of eight of 13 three pointers as Purdue won 83-78 in a Southeast Regional semifinal at Knoxville, Tenn.
In 1997, Kansas avenged the defeat with a 75-61 victory in a second-round game at Memphis, Tenn.