Zach Edey's 40 helps Purdue overcome '23 defeat to reach Final Four.

Matt Painter climbed the ladder at Little Caesars Arena and raised his hand in the air before snapping the net amid a sea of screaming black and gold.

But Painter remembered the conversation just minutes before Purdue had won a close 72-66 against Tennessee in the Elite Eight on Sunday, earning the school's third trip to the Final Four.

He had to do it at Columbus, Ohio's Nationwide Arena a year ago, when Fairleigh Dickinson celebrated becoming the second 16-seed to upset a 1-seed in the history of the NCAA tournament.

With tears in their eyes, Painters' players gazed at him, wondering how it had all come apart and whether they would ever be able to put it back together.

Painter stated, "It was a horrible speech." "They are all ours. It is only not available for usage by one coach."

However, the Boilermakers never managed to shake the shadow of that shocking defeat. Rather, they faced it head-on throughout the season

 understanding that if they didn't make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they would never be able to win over the doubters.

They had come this far with a victory—a triumph that a Purdue staff member described as "cathartic"—following the finest game of senior center Zach Edey's legendary career.

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