PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — The headline teams at the Battle 4 Atlantis had a rough start in paradise.
Second-ranked Arizona and No. 18 Purdue both lost their tournament openers Wednesday, sending them to the consolation bracket. That left No. 5 Villanova as the only ranked team still playing for the championship.
Tennessee beat the Boilermakers 78-75 in overtime to start the day’s four-game slate. Hours later, North Carolina State gave first-year coach Kevin Keatts a marquee victory by taking down the Wildcats 90-84 .
Now Purdue and Arizona are playing in Thursday night’s session. The Boilermakers are facing Western Kentucky, while the Wildcats meet SMU.
“There’s a lot at stake,” Purdue guard Dakota Mathias said of the mentality going forward. “I mean, anytime you’re going to play, you’re trying to win, so it doesn’t matter who’s in front of you and who you’re playing, you’ve got to come out and compete. So there’s a lot to play for. We’ve got to take it game by game regardless of who our opponent is.”
Arizona’s loss was the far more stunning outcome, between the Wildcats (3-1) entering the year as Final Four favorites with preseason Associated Press All-America Allonzo Trier and the fact that N.C. State is a program in transition with Keatts implementing a new pressing style.
Instead, the Wolfpack (5-0) never looked rattled and had a response every time Arizona tried to take control. Remarkably, the Wildcats never led by more than two points, while N.C. State’s defense — a sore point for former coach Mark Gottfried last year — held the Wildcats to just two baskets in the final 5 minutes.
Trier scored 24 of his 27 after halftime, while freshman Deandre Ayton had 27 points and 14 rebounds. That’s part of the reason why coach Sean Miller was more focused on his team’s defense afterward.
“There’s very few times in the nine years that I’ve been at Arizona that we’ve scored 84 points and lost,” he said.
For Purdue (4-1), the plan was to earn a measuring-stick matchup with Villanova on Thanksgiving afternoon. But the Boilermakers never found their high-scoring, 3-point-shot-making rhythm against the Volunteers’ aggressive and physical defense.
Purdue came in as one of the nation’s top offenses by averaging 102 points, shooting 57 percent and making 49 percent from 3-point range. But the Boilermakers shot just 37 percent, committed 18 turnovers that led to 20 points for the Vols and surrendered 21 second-chance points after being beaten on the boards.
Purdue also blew an 11-point lead late in the first half, gave up a final-seconds 3-pointer to force overtime then squandered a 70-65 overtime lead. That sent Tennessee to its first 3-0 start since the 2010-11 season.
“We had stretches there where I thought we played to the score, instead of playing the way we were playing to get that lead,” coach Matt Painter said.
Villanova advanced by pulling away in the second half to beat Western Kentucky 66-58 .
Now, instead of three ranked teams in the semifinals, the Battle 4 Atlantis will feature Villanova against Tennessee in Thursday’s first game, followed by N.C. State taking on Northern Iowa.
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