WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Northern Kentucky University camethisclose to knocking off Purdue on its home court in the season opener Friday night.
After leading for most of the game, the Norse fell behind by one with 13 seconds to go. Tyler White drove the lane and tried a layup over three Purdue defenders that rimmed out. Jake Giesler grabbed the offensive rebound, but his shot at the buzzer missed and Purdue escaped with a 77-76 victory.
“Tyler made a nice read on that final play, and the ball just would not fall in the basket," NKU coach Dave Bezold said. "Jake was in the right place and had the rebound, but that's a tough attempt. I was really proud of the way our guys battled the entire game.
"We just came up a possession short."
See the box score at http://nkunorse.com/boxscore.aspx?id=1950&path=mbball
Jordan Jackson led the Norse in his debut with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but the junior guard couldn’t seal the deal.
Jackson missed two free throws with 19 seconds left and Purdue scored the last five points.
"Jordan had an outstanding game and we would not have been in position to win if he had not played so well," Bezold said. "That's one of the best debuts I've ever seen a player have for Northern Kentucky."
Todd Johnson had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jack Flournoy added 12 points for the Norse (0-1).
Purdue's Ronnie Johnson had 18 points and five assists. Jay Simpson added 14 points and six rebounds and Errick Peck had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Boilermakers (1-0), who never found a way to pull away.
Flournoy and Tyler White hit 3s to put the Norse ahead by four going into the final minute.
Peck hit a 3 with 50 seconds remaining to cut NKU’s lead to 76-75. After Jackson missed two free throws, Johnson scored the go-ahead free throws with 13 seconds left.
Northern Kentucky made 13 of 26 from 3-point range, including four treys apiece by Johnson and Flournoy.
"I thought they were tough and they competed. I was impressed," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said of the Norse.
"They deserved to win this game."
NKU meets No. 1 Kentucky at 4 p.m. Sunday in Rupp Arena in Lexington.