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 college hoops season thus far. 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.
"I huddled these guys up, and I'm like, God forbid they score, give me the ball, and I'm going to send them home," said Harper, a 6-foot-6 senior who came in averaging 14.8 points per game. "Mawot found me quickly and I was able to cut up the court in like three seconds and I threw one up."
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.
"When you go on the road, you gotta be 10 points better than somebody, because if you allow it to be close, crazy things can happen," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Obviously, that was a once-in-a-lifetime shot, but we allowed it to be close."
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.
"We just kept hanging around, fighting," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. "It didn't look like it was going our way a few times and they just stayed the course and made big plays and made big stops."
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 Mawot Mag pulled Rutgers within one on a dunk off a pass from Harper with 1:05 left.
McConnell had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for Rutgers. Jaden Ivey scored 15 points for Purdue.
Rutgers had several players sick this week with what Pikiell described as the flu, including senior captain Geo Baker, who was set to return from a hamstring injury after missing four games.
"Geo practiced yesterday," Pikiell said. "He got the flu this morning and couldn't play."
The Rutgers starting five logged heavy minutes, and the Scarlet Knights got only five points from their reserves.
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 30 years last season, the Scarlet Knights had 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 they know they can beat anybody.
Purdue: Hosts North Carolina State on Sunday.
Rutgers: At rival No. 23 Seton Hall on Sunday.