The seconds were bleeding away Friday in the second-most stunning upset of the NCAA Tournament’s opening round, and North Texas guard Javion Hamlet found himself screaming at the cheering section for No. 4 seed Purdue.
“Don’t ever doubt me,’’ Hamlet yelled. “That’s what I told the Purdue fans: ‘Don’t ever doubt Javion Hamlet.’ ’’
After what Hamlet, scoring 24 points, and 13th-seeded North Texas did in their shocking 78-69 overtime win over Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, no one should doubt them.
Certainly not their second-round opponent, the winner of Friday’s late game between Villanova and Winthrop.
The victory was the Mean Green’s first-ever NCAA Tournament triumph after losing their first three and their first time in the Big Dance in 11 years.
Purdue was the only team from Indiana that made the NCAAs, which is playing every game in the Indianapolis area in a bubble. Now Indiana has no teams remaining.
The Boilermakers (18-10) rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final six minutes to tie the score twice, and North Texas missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. The Mean Green (18-9) then scored the first 11 points in overtime and never looked back.
Hamlet, whose father was in attendance wearing a shirt with an image of Javion on its front while taking photos and videos with his iPad, was the star of the show.
“Our composure was tremendous, especially when [Purdue] made a run,’’ North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “But we did fight back. There’s a tremendous amount of heart in that locker room, starting with Javion Hamlet.’’
Hamlet was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and also had 12 rebounds and five assists. James Reese and Thomas Bell each had 16 points as North Texas got 71 of its 78 points from its five starters.
North Texas shot 47.5 percent from the field while Purdue shot just 36.2 percent.
“Our defense is what won the game for us tonight,’’ McCasland said.
That this was North Texas’ first NCAA Tournament game since 2010, and the school’s first victory was not lost on Hamlet.
“It’s a great feeling to be first team in history,’’ he said. “Can’t nobody take it away from us. All of the players on this team will go down in history. We showed the whole world that we belong. We just showed the world that we can play with anybody.’’
Then Hamlet warned: “It feels great, but the job’s not done yet.’’
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