North Texas comes up big with 78-69 upset over Purdue

The North Texas Mean. Green celebrate Friday night after defeating Purdue in a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

They made sure things kept going this time.

Bell opened overtime with a 3, then altered two Purdue shots underneath to help the Mean Green turn the extra session into a laugh. North Texas scored the first 11 points.

Hamlet did most of his damage during a pair of sublime 8-0 personal runs in the second half, each of which stopped the Purdue (17-10) momentum in its tracks. The second was a twisting, spinning, dribbling display of mastery in the paint. It gave North Texas a nine-point lead with 7:45 left.

The Boilermakers scratched back and tied it at 61 on Trevion Williams’ putback with 21 seconds left.

But overtime was no contest, and when it ended, Hamlet tossed the ball into the sparsely filled stands at Lucas Oil Stadium, raised his hands above his head and exited, stage right, to the locker room.

This marked the first tournament win in the history of North Texas, the team once known as the Eagles, that officially adopted “Mean Green” as its nickname in 2000. The moniker first became a thing when a fired-up cheerleader got creative at a football game in the late-’60s; it was then brought more into the fold when Hayden Fry, the folksy ballcoach who went on to greater fame at Iowa, came to the campus in Denton a few years later.

But there was no bigger name on this night than Hamlet.

He made all eight of his free throws and also had 11 rebounds and five assists. His 8-footer with 2:24 left in OT made it a seven-point game and turned the end into a free-throw-shooting contest.

Which North Texas won, too.

DOING IT FOR MOM

Freshman Jaden Ivey almost single-handedly kept Purdue in the game. He finished with a career-high 26 points while his mom, Notre Dame women’s coach Niele Ivey, watched from the stands. Ivey’s team was on the bubble but Notre Dame did not make the tournament in Texas.

NEXT UP

Purdue was the third Big Ten team out of the nation-leading nine it placed in the tournament to exit before the weekend. Michigan State lost to UCLA in a play-in game.

North Texas moves on to play Friday night’s winner between Winthrop and Villanova.

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