NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—During the game’s final timeout, Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson handed the ball over to his small-fry freshman and told him to make something happen.
Oh, how things have changed for the Sooners.
Drew Lavender hit a leaning shot in the lane with 1.1 seconds to play, lifting No. 11 Oklahoma to a 47-45 victory over No. 16 Purdue on Thursday night.
The 5-foot-7 Lavender had 14 points and Kevin Bookout added 12 as the Sooners (6-0) beat their second straight Top 20 opponent in as many games. Oklahoma was coming off an 80-77 overtime win over then-No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday.
“He played great in the second half. He hit a good shot when it counted,” Sampson said. “The great thing about Drew is that you’re going to be seeing him for four years. He’s going to be here a while.”
Purdue (6-1) nearly pulled out the win despite shooting 30 percent from the field.
Chris Booker’s two free throws with 3:30 left in the game gave Purdue its first lead of the second half, 42-41.
But the Sooners relied on their quick-footed freshman down the stretch to remain one of the nation’s most unlikely undefeated teams: Oklahoma has two freshmen and two sophomores in its starting lineup.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Sooners, who have to replace three seniors—All-America Hollis Price, Quannas White and Ebi Ere— from a team that won the last three Big 12 tournament titles and was a game within its second-straight Final Four last season.
“We’re a work in progress,” said Sampson, shaking his head. “To be 6-0 with this group … I didn’t think we’d be 6-0.”
Bookout, a sophomore, scored the go-ahead basket on Lavender’s tremendous wraparound pass from the baseline.
Purdue’s David Teague hit one free throw with 11 seconds remaining to tie the game at 45, setting the stage for Lavender’s off-balance shot.
Oklahoma cleared out the right side of the floor for Lavender, who drove into the lane and lofted the victory-clinching basket just over the fingertips of Brandon McKnight.
“My thinking was to drive,” Lavender said. “If they helped off, then I was going to give it to someone else. No one helped off so I took it and made something happen to get some points.”
Booker led Purdue with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Kenneth Lowe, who entered the game as the Boilermakers’ leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, was held to eight on 2-of-9 shooting.
The Boilermakers were off to their best start since 1993-94, when they went 14-0.
“Last thing I told them before the last shot was to guard the yard in front of you and do not let them dribble all the way for a layup,” Purdue coach Gene Keady said. “You’ve got to hand it to Lavender. He was the high-point man for the game and to say that for a freshman is quite a compliment.”
Lavender scored 12 points in the second half, efficiently running the Sooners’ offense like Price and White used to.
Lavender, who’s generously listed at 155 pounds, also showed he’s quickly adapting to the rough-and-tumble style that’s come to define Sampson’s program.
During one possession early in the second half, Lavender was tumbling out of bounds near the baseline when he deftly rifled the ball off the stomach of Ivan Kartelo, Purdue’s 6-11 center.
Lavender has already become a fan favorite in Norman, drawing cheers of “Dreeewww!” whenever he scores
“One thing about Drew is that he’s courageous,” Sampson said. “He’s still feeling his way around out there. His ceiling is really high.”
It was tough to tell whether smothering defense or sloppy offense was responsible for the low-scoring first half.
Purdue trailed only 21-19 at halftime despite shooting 29 percent, including a stretch when the Boilermakers went almost nine minutes between baskets.
The Sooners weren’t much better: they made only one of their first 10 field goals and finished the half shooting 35 percent.
The teams combined for 25 turnovers in the first half.
“People are going to talk about this game and how we only had 47 points,” Sampson said. “But I tell you what: I’d much rather have 47 than 45.”