PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Ron Harper Jr. hit a buzzer-beater from just inside half court, and Rutgers shocked Purdue in its first-ever game as the nation’s No. 1 team, winning 70-68 on Thursday night.
Harper finished with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 10 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, a do-it-all performance that concluded with the most stunning shot of the young college hoops season. Rutgers (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten) beat the top-ranked team for the first time in program history.
Purdue had gone ahead 68-67 on a layup by Trevion Williams with 4 seconds left. With no timeouts, Rutgers inbounded the ball to Harper, who dribbled across the half-court line and let it fly from the big “R” logo. The ball went through as time expired and Rutgers fans stormed the court.
Williams scored 21 points off the bench for Purdue (8-1, 1-1 Big Ten), which was a unanimous No. 1 in this week’s AP Top 25, the program’s first time atop the poll. Its stay will be brief.
The lead changed hands three times in the final 13.1 seconds. Harper hit a turnaround jumper to put Rutgers ahead 67-66, its first lead since early in the second half.
Purdue had a 10-point lead with 8 minutes left before Rutgers began chipping away.
Caleb McConnell made a turnaround jumper in the paint to get Rutgers within 65-63 with 2:07 remaining, and Mowat Mag pulled Rutgers within one on a dunk off a pass from Harper with 1:05 left.
McConnell had 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists for Rutgers. Jaden Ivey scored 15 points for Purdue.
Purdue: The Boilermakers were off to another strong start under coach Matt Painter, going 8-0 for the third time under his tutelage and looking like a Big Ten title contender. They’ll have to regroup after crumbling under the scrutiny of the No. 1 ranking.
Rutgers: After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the 30 years last season, it had been a rough start to the 2021-22 campaign, with losses at UMass and Big East bottom-feeder DePaul, as well as at home to Lafayette. Now the Scarlet Knights know they can beat anybody.
Purdue: Hosts North Carolina State on Sunday.
Rutgers: At rival No. 23 Seton Hall on Sunday.