INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Purdue’s freshmen grew up just in time to deny Rick Pitino his 500th college coaching win.
Robbie Hummel, one of the Boilermakers’ four freshman starters, scored 15 points, and the Boilermakers beat No. 22 Louisville 67-59 on Saturday in the Wooden Tradition.
Purdue had lost at Clemson and Missouri, but this time handled a late challenge at Conseco Fieldhouse to get their first victory over a big-name opponent.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a statement win,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Making a statement is beating Clemson, Missouri and Louisville. That’s a statement. This was a good win versus a very good team, but let’s not get carried away.”
Purdue, which squandered a 10-point second-half lead in its previous game at Missouri, nearly blew a 13-point second-half lead against the Cardinals, but held on.
“If we lost (against Missouri) and didn’t learn anything, then the game was a waste, but I think today showed that we really did learn something,” Hummel said.
The other freshmen contributed, too. Scott Martin scored 11 points, JaJuan Johnson had five rebounds and two assists and guard E’Twaun Moore had one turnover in 24 minutes.
It was Pitino’s second shot at win No. 500. The Cardinals lost at home to Dayton a week earlier. He was in no mood to discuss the subject after the game.
“Why talk about insignificant things?” he said.
Pitino was more concerned with trying to make the best of his depleted lineup. Center David Padgett and forward Juan Palacios are out with knee injuries and forward Derrick Caracter is serving a suspension.
“It was like the first week of practice, with limited talent,” he said. “It was very frustrating to them, very frustrating for the coaches, but there’s not much you can do other than go out there and work hard, which they did.”
The missing players forced Louisville to focus on its outside game. The Cardinals made just 7 of 30 3-pointers against the Boilermakers.
“When you don’t have a low-post game, all you want is open shots,” Pitino said. “You had nothing but wide-open shots. Sometimes, when you work that hard on defense, you don’t have the legs to take the shot.”
Chris Kramer had 14 points, four assists and four steals, and Keaton Grant added 12 points for the Boilermakers (6-2).
Terrence Williams had 17 points and nine rebounds for Louisville (5-3) before fouling out with 1:24 left. Earl Clark, the Cardinals’ leading scorer with 14 points per game, finished with two, though he also had 13 rebounds.
Purdue led 36-25 early in the second half before Will Scott got the Cardinals going. He made a 3-pointer, then a baseline jumper to cut Purdue’s lead to 36-30.
Purdue answered with 3-pointers by Grant and Kramer, and a putback by Marcus Green, to make it a 44-31 lead with 14:22 left.
Louisville rallied again with help from its pressure defense. A breakaway dunk by Jerry Smith cut Purdue’s lead to 48-46, but Kramer dunked on the other end to make it 50-46 before the Cardinals went cold from 3-point range and got no closer.
Purdue led 26-19 in the first half before Louisville rallied. The Cardinals’ Terrance Farley made the first of two free throws to cut the Boilermakers’ lead to four with 40 seconds left in the first half.
Moments later, Nemanja Calasan found Hummel cutting for a layup to make it 31-25.
Purdue’s Grant made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 34-25 at halftime. He made 3 of 4 3-pointers in the first half.
“I think the shots were very important,” Grant said. “I just fed off the crowd, and my teammates were looking for me.”
Pitino’s next shot at No. 500 will come Tuesday at home against Marshall.
“We lost,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys, we move on. It’s not tough when guys give great effort.”