WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — First, Purdue took a page from Michigan State’s playbook.
Then Nojel Eastern rewrote the script.
Ryan Cline scored 17 points and Eastern overcame his season-long free throw troubles by making six straight down the stretch to help the Boilermakers fend off a frantic late charge and hang on for a 73-63 upset Sunday over the sixth-ranked Spartans.
“They kind of get down six or 20 (in road games) and they have you right where they want you,” coach Matt Painter said, referring to the Spartans’ proclivity to come back. “You’re nervous the whole damn time. I was nervous till 30 seconds (left).”
With good reason, too.
Purdue opened with a 19-6 run, extended the margin to 23 midway through the second half before nearly giving it all away during a drought in which it missed eight straight shots. Michigan State took advantage by going on a 24-5 run to cut the deficit to 60-56 with 5:14 to play.
But just when it looked like the Boilermakers (14-6, 7-2 Big Ten) might crack, Eastern, a 50 percent free-throw shooter, was fouled three times in a row. He made all six to give the Boilermakers a 71-60 lead with 2:35 left.
Michigan State (18-3, 9-1) had three significant winning streaks end — a 13-game streak that dated to November, a 21-game regular-season streak against conference foes and a 12-game road streak in league play.
Purdue has won four in a row and 12 straight at home.
Preseason All-American Carsen Edwards scored just 14 points. He was averaging 24.7.
Cassius Winston had 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to lead the Spartans. Matt McQuaid had 12 points in a game Michigan State never took the lead.
Houston 77, Tulsa 65
TULSA, Okla. — Armoni Brooks scored 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and Houston became the first Division I men’s team to reach 20 wins this season.
The Cougars (20-1, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) used a 49-24 rebounding edge to stay in control.
Fabian White had 14 points for Houston, and reserve Nate Hinton finished with 13. for Houston. Chris Harris Jr. had 10 rebounds.
DaQuan Jeffries led Tulsa (12-9, 2-7) with 17 points. Jeriah Horne had 15.
Villanova 80, Seton Hall 52
PHILADELPHIA — Phil Booth hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points, helping Villanova to its eighth consecutive victory.
The Wildcats (16-4, 7-0 Big East) made 17 3s and are rolling toward another conference crown under coach Jay Wright. The national champions still have some kinks to work out to become a deep threat in March — namely, finding a third scorer — but again should be a low single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Pirates (12-8, 3-5) remain 0-for-Nova on the road since 1994. The Wildcats have won 17 straight games on their home court against Seton Hall (15-0 Pavilion; 2-0 Wells Fargo Center) and were never threatened in this one.
Myles Cale led Seton Hall with 14 points. The Pirates shot 35 percent from the floor.
North Carolina 78, Notre Dame 73
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Paris Kea and North Carolina gave coach Sylvia Hatchell the “wow moment” she asked for: an upset of top-ranked Notre Dame.
Kea had season highs of 30 points and 10 assists to help the Tar Heels stun the Fighting Irish 78-73 on Sunday, earning the program’s first win against a No. 1-ranked team in nearly 13 years.
Stephanie Watts added 19 points for the Tar Heels (12-9, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who played with confidence nearly all afternoon and stayed on the attack behind Kea’s hot hand.
UNC led by 10 early in the fourth quarter before Notre Dame ran off 12 straight points to take the lead. But instead of crumpling, the Tar Heels found a counterpunch to hold on.
Kea hit two free throws in the final 20 seconds to help keep control for the Tar Heels, who mobbed each other on the court as the horn sounded.
It was the Tar Heels’ first win against the Fighting Irish since Notre Dame joined the ACC in the 2013-14 season, along with the program’s first win against the nation’s top-ranked team since beating Duke in a 1-vs-2 matchup in February 2006.
It certainly was a surprise, considering the reigning national champion Irish (19-2, 6-1) had faced relatively little stress in league play and suffered their only loss to Connecticut.