Inside the Worst March Madness Beats: Arkansas-Little Rock’s 2016 Double OT Upset of Purdue

Inside the Worst March Madness Beats: Arkansas-Little Rock’s 2016 Double OT Upset of Purdue article feature image
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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Former Little Rock guard Josh Hagins

  • Darren Rovell spoke to the players behind some of the worst March Madness beats in recent memory.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock guard Josh Hagins looks back at single-handedly outscoring Purdue 21-20 to cap the 2016 NCAA Tournament upset.

Josh Hagins had a memorable 22nd birthday.

It was March 17, 2016, and his Arkansas-Little Rock team was taking on Purdue.

Purdue came into the first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament with a 26-8 record, having just narrowly lost the Big Ten Tournament title game to Michigan State.

Arkansas-Little Rock was 29-4 and winner of the Sun Belt Conference, making only its second tournament appearance since 1990. Despite the Trojans’ gaudy record, Purdue entered the 5-vs.-12 tilt as an 8-point favorite.

And, for most of the game, it looked like anyone backing Purdue would have no problem cashing.

With 5:01 to play, the Boilermakers were up 63-49.

But the Trojans soon went on a run.

A Hagins 3-pointer.

A Hagins assist on a layup.

A Hagins jumper.

Another layup assist.

Hagins again, from 3.

“I consider myself to be a guy that can heat up pretty fast,” Hagins recalled to The Action Network. “So I have a couple go in, in a row, I can catch a rhythm pretty quickly.”

It was a 12-0 run that destroyed the hopes of anyone who had Purdue to cover. Or did it?

Purdue found itself up 70-67 with 10 seconds to go.

“At that point in the year, we are a veteran team with a lot of experience of coming from behind,” Hagins said. “We were good about handling adversity. So we just continued to fight.”

The ball was in Hagins’ hands. He dribbled around to find himself at the top of the key beyond the three point line and did a step back heave.

It went in.

Overtime gave those siding with Purdue a slim hope.

That lead didn’t widen for Purdue, but Hagins hit a layup with 18 seconds to go that would eventually bring the game into double overtime.

Hagins scored six of Little Rock’s 10 points in double overtime.

All told, in the final five minutes of regulation and the two overtimes, Hagins outscored Purdue 21-20.

The Trojans won by two.

“We just wanted to survive and advance like everyone else did,” Hagins said. “The only thing that we kept hearing after the game was how we busted everybody’s bracket. So for that we gave them a slight shrug and kept moving.”

Hagins finished with a stat line that actually hasn’t been seen in the NCAA Tournament since steals became an official stat in 1986: He became the first player to have at least 30 points, five assists, five rebounds and five steals.

“It was for sure the best game I’ve ever played in college,” Hagins said.

Hagins said, even with gambling legalization, he doesn’t think many players will know the spreads in this year’s tournament.

“College basketball is basketball in its purest form,” Hagins said. “It’s strictly about kids who are fighting with their team to win. That’s what makes it so fun to watch. So if kids become more aware of it, it will take away from the game.”

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