Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Cincinnati trailed by seven with under a minute left in regulation and somehow survived Purdue 66-65 in an overtime thriller in the Midwest Region on Thursday.
A matchup against undefeated Kentucky waits them in the next round, but the eighth-seeded Bearcats (23-10), even without their leading scorer and rebounder, showed they will not be as easy out.
Just ask Purdue, which had multiple chances to put the game away but wound up on the losing end when Vince Edwards missed a 3-pointer at the OT buzzer.
"We had all the opportunities in the world, and that's why it hurts as bad as it does because we knew we put ourselves in position to win and we didn't make the necessary plays," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.
Troy Caupain forced overtime with buzzer-beating runner to cap a 10-3 run over the final 44 seconds of regulation.
Caupain finished with 10 points, Farad Cobb scored 14 and Coreontae DeBerry added 13 for the Bearcats, who were without Octavius Ellis for the final 21- plus minutes after the star forward was ejected for throwing an elbow.
Purdue missed six of its last seven shots and two free throws in the extra session but still had a chance down by one after Caupain missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with time winding down.
Edwards had a good look from the left wing but found all iron, spoiling his 14-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance. A.J. Hammons chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds for the ninth-seeded Boilermakers (21-13).
Purdue led by seven, 56-49, before Cincinnati scored six points in a five- second span via Kevin Johnson's 3-pointer and Caupain's three-point play.
After Purdue's Jon Octeus' 1-of-2 showing at the foul line made it a two-point game with 7.4 seconds left, Purdue called a timeout which allowed Cincinnati to draw up a play. Associate head coach Larry Davis put the ball in hands of Caupain, who drove right off a pick at the top of the key and scooped in a runner just before the buzzer. The ball rolled around the rim, hung on the back and dropped in to force overtime.
"When I came off the screen, it was a wide-open lane, and I knew I had the opportunity to at least get it up on the rim," recalled Caupain. "Once it was rolling around the rim, I stopped, I bent down a little bit, I looked up, and once it fell in the rim and the buzzer went off, I just smiled."
DeBerry hit a go-ahead layup with 3:08 left in OT, and it stayed 64-63 before a Cobb bucket with 28 seconds left. Octeus' jumper set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Ellis threw a blatant elbow that caught Hammons on the chin with 16:22 left in regulation. Ellis was boxing out the 7-footer, turned to face him and landed a cheap shot, drawing a foul and a review by the officials. A brief consultation of the replay ended with Ellis being charged with a Flagrant-2 foul, and the junior forward was escorted to the locker room in tears.
Cincinnati trailed 35-30 following Hammons' technical free throw and a layup by Edwards, but that was the largest deficit it faced until the final minute.
A Gary Clark jumper gave Cincinnati a 47-46 lead -- its first since it was 22-21 -- and the Bearcats were still up by one before Edwards and Dakota Mathias hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Purdue ahead 54-49. The Boilermakers were 2-of-20 from behind the arc to that point.
Cincinnati then missed three straight shots before two Octeus free throws pushed Purdue's lead to 56-49.
Cincinnati is one of 11 programs to appear in the NCAA Tournament each of the past five seasons .... Purdue was playing in its first NCAA Tournament since 2012 ... Purdue owned a 50-38 rebounding advantage ... Cincinnati's largest lead was four.