Wildcats Make Early Exit From NCAA Tournament
March 16, 2007
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - So long, Lute. Maybe you, Coach K and The General can spend the rest of the NCAA tournament talking about how things used to be.
Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats were knocked out of the first-round Friday night 72-63 by Purdue. With Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Bob Knight of Texas Tech also losing their openers, three of the best coaches in tournament history are all on the sideline, making this the first time since 1995 that the second round opens without any of them.
Carl Landry powered the Boilermakers with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Chris Kramer added 16 points, including a basket from his knees. Chris Lutz hit his first four 3-pointers and scored 16 and David Teague added 15.
This win was no fluke. Purdue (22-11) only trailed once and it was by a single point.
It was a fitting finish for an Arizona team that had underachieved all year. The Wildcats were (20-11) hoping to click in mid-March like their championship team from 10 years ago, but instead became another of Olson's first-round flameouts.
The Boilermakers used a bunch of early 3-pointers to grab control and capped the first half with one more. An 8-0 start to the second half put them up by 11, and they went up 51-43 with 7:38 left on Kramer's spectacular play.
He lost his footing after trying to shake his defender with a crossover dribble, then looked up and realized two important things: the shot clock was running out and he had a clear look at the basket. From about 10 feet, he put a nice arc on the shot and it landed softly on the rim, then bounced right through.
The Wildcats (20-11) got their act together soon after, getting within 55-52 on a 3-pointer by Mustafa Shakur with 4:19 left. But David Teague - who missed most of last season with a knee injury, as did Landry - answered quickly for Purdue, letting Arizona know the Boilermakers weren't going away.
Arizona hung close for a while, but never really mounted a charge. Olson pulled his seniors in the final minute, realizing there was no avoiding defeat.
Olson was coaching his 73rd NCAA tournament game, third on the all-time list. Krzyzewski is ahead of him and Knight is right behind at 70. Those coaches are also among the top five on the tournament wins list.
Olson was trying for career win No. 47, which would've tied John Wooden for third place. The interesting part about Purdue denying that? Wooden himself is a Boilermaker, having played there from 1929-32.
Current Purdue coach Matt Painter is an alum, too, having played for coach Gene Keady and worked under him. After coaching Southern Illinois into the tournament in 2004, he spent 2005 working with Keady then took over last year.
Purdue went an agonizing 16-40 those two years. Painter built a tournament team this year by losing only once at home and going on a late roll, a 4-1 finish that got them to 20 wins and convinced the selection committee to give them an at-large bid.
Now they're headed to the second round for the first time since 2003.
And Olson is headed home, just like Krzyzewski and Knight.