WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - The Patriot League school that gained fame by beating Kansas in the 2005 NCAA tournament and Arkansas in the 2006 tourney just knocked off another big school. Cameron Ayers scored 18 points to help Bucknell beat Purdue 70-65 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams at the 2K Sports Classic.
Mike Muscala had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Bryson Johnson added 14 points for the Bison.
Bucknell beat Purdue with poise. The Bison return four regular starters and two part-time starters from a team that went 25-10 and won the Patriot League regular-season title last season. Purdue, though talented, played five freshmen and started two.
"We have four guys who have played a lot of basketball," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "They all have been all-league players at some point. They've played tough games in tough venues."
Donnie Hale scored 15 points and D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson each added 12 for the Boilermakers.
Terone Johnson, Purdue's top scorer during exhibition play and the team's best perimeter defender, sat out with an ankle injury.
"It hurt (us) a lot," Purdue guard Anthony Johnson said. "That's another guard that can score the ball and create for others. That's at least 15 points right there."
Bucknell led 68-65 in the closing seconds, but Byrd, Purdue's best 3-point shooter, missed an open 3-pointer that could have tied the game.
"The exact worst thing that could have happened, happened, and we just dodged a bullet," Paulsen said.
Byrd, a senior, wished he had that one back.
"Coach (Matt Painter) drew up a play that obviously worked and got me an open shot," he said. "I wish it would have went in. It would have made me feel a whole lot better."
Bucknell made 20 of 25 free throws while Purdue made just 7 of 15. The Bison also out-rebounded the Boilermakers 36-33.
"We played like our hair was on fire a couple times," Painter said.
Ayers, an 83 percent free-throw shooter last season, made one of two free throws with 19 seconds left to give the Bison a 66-63 lead. Anthony Johnson quickly scored on the other end for Purdue to cut Bucknell's lead to 66-65.
The Boilermakers fouled Bryson Johnson with 9.5 seconds left, and he made both free throws to give Bucknell a 68-65 lead.
After Byrd missed the 3-pointer and Bucknell rebounded, Joe Willman was fouled and made both free throws for the Bison to seal the deal.
Hale's bank shot in the closing seconds of the first half gave Purdue a 33-27 lead at halftime. The Boilermakers held Muscala, last year's Patriot League Player of the Year, to four points on 2 for 5 shooting in the first half.
A free-throw line jumper by Muscala two minutes into the second half cut Purdue's lead to 33-31, but Anthony Johnson quickly answered with a floater.
Willman's 3-point play gave Bucknell a 36-35 lead with 16:21 remaining. Another 3-point play, this one from Ayers, pushed Bucknell's lead to 39-36, and a dunk by Muscala pushed the Bison lead to four.
Purdue came roaring back. Rapheal Davis made a layup, then a short jumper, to put the Boilermakers up 43-41.
Bucknell took a 46-43 lead on a 3-point play by Ayers, but a 3-pointer by Byrd put the Boilermakers back up 50-49 with 8:30 remaining.
Again, Bucknell responded. Bryson Johnson's 3-pointer gave the Bison a 61-57 lead with 4:09 to go. Bryson Johnson's fade-away made it 63-58.
Byrd's 3-point play made it 63-61 and set up the final two minutes.
Painter didn't like the way his team finished the game.
"We have to do a better job of being a team," he said. "We had a couple situations where adversity kind of set in with us where we compounded our mistakes."
Paulsen was glad to have played the Boilermakers early.
"They're going to be a real good team," he said. "We were fortunate to catch a lot of those guys where it was their first collegiate game."