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Mar 21, 2024 7:34 pm

No. 16 Grambling State shooting for historic win against Purdue

Grambling State

Grambling State knows it will make history if it can upset No. 1 seed Purdue in Friday’s Midwest Region first-round game in Indianapolis.

The 16th-seeded Tigers know it is a tall order with 7-foot-4 star Zach Edey used to having his way in the paint.

Of course, the Boilermakers (29-4) are just one of two No. 1 seeds in NCAA Tournament history to lose to a 16-seed, with last year’s 63-58 loss to Fairleigh Dickinson still fresh on the minds of everyone who fills out brackets.

Purdue’s stumble a season ago leaves Grambling State feeling like it also can post an upset for the ages.

“We feel like this is another team in our way, a team we’re capable of beating when we go on the court every day,” Tigers forward Jourdan Smith said Friday. “Like (Grambling coach Donte’ Jackson) said, it’s just another team we’ve got to try to go 1-0 against.”

Grambling (21-14) defeated Montana State 88-81 in overtime in the First Four on Wednesday to set up this opportunity. Guard Jimel Cofer scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Smith added 18 points and nine rebounds to help the club rally from a 14-point, second-half deficit.

It was the Tigers’ first NCAA tourney win. Now they are ready to post victory No. 2.

“Just another team in our way, and we feel like we’ve got the talent that we can go out there and play versus anybody,” Cofer said of Purdue.

Jackson didn’t get much sleep after Wednesday night’s victory. The team traveled from Dayton, Ohio, to Indianapolis and arrived close to 2 a.m. Jackson watched some film around 4 a.m. and then decided to get some sleep.

He didn’t get much rest and it wasn’t because he was having nightmares of trying to stop Edey. It was because his phone rang at 7:30 a.m.

” I’m like, are you serious? My fault for not putting the phone on silent,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he will watch the Fairleigh Dickinson film as part of the preparation work. But he won’t be trying to replicate anything.

“Right now we’ve got to figure out the best game plan for us,” Jackson said. “We’re not Fairleigh Dickinson, we’re Grambling. We’ve got to go out here and do what’s best for us and try to devise a scheme to put our guys in the best situation and score the ball at a high level and defend at a high level.”

While Grambling gears up for a shot at history, the Boilermakers want nothing to do with another embarrassing first-round upset.

“There’s nothing we’re looking past,” Purdue guard Fletcher Loyer said. “We’re not looking anything past Grambling State, not thinking who we’d play next. We’re getting ourselves ready to play Friday night.”

The other 16 vs. 1 upset came in 2018 when UMBC routed top-seeded Virginia 74-54.

–Field Level Media

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