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Purdue makes first Final Four in over 40 years

INDIANAPOLIS — The Purdue Boilermakers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four for the first time since 1980, beating Tennessee, 72-66, in the Midwest Region final in Detroit on Sunday.

“As a coach, I think you’ll enjoy it and appreciate it as time goes on. It hit me when I saw Robbie Hummel and did the radio and what it meant to him. That to me was, that was huge. That was emotional,” head coach Matt Painter said. “What really hits me is we’ve got more basketball to play.”

“Paint works his butt off every single day. He does it the right way, and he just wants to win,” sophomore guard Braden Smith said. “And when you do that, it’s a recipe for success. And when you have the past that he’s had, it means more than anything for him.”

The Volunteers went up by 11 with five minutes to go in the first half on a 3-pointer by All-American guard Dalton Knecht, but the Boilers rallied to take a 36-34 lead into halftime.

Reigning national player of the year Zach Edey keyed the late run, scoring nine of his 19 first-half points. The senior also grabbed 10 rebounds in the first half for his 28th double-double of the season, tying his own school record for most double-doubles by a single player.

“I love these guys, man,” Edey said. “To go through what we went through and come out stronger on the other side says a lot about ourselves,  says a lot about what we’re made of.”

The second half went back-and-forth before a Smith-to-Edey alley-oop dunk and Lance Jones 3-pointer put Purdue up six with under three minutes to play.

Edey finished with 40 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Fletcher Loyer was the only other Boiler in double figures with 14 points. Knecht scored 37 points to lead Tennessee.

Purdue will take on North Carolina State in the Final Four at 6:09 p.m. on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.

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