Saturday, March 27, 2010


Man, that was hard to watch.

Clearly Purdue wanted to slow Duke down and play a classic Big 10 (physical, grind-it-out, first-one-to-40-wins) game. They did, and it almost worked.

The Boilermakers’ smothering defense held the Blue Devils to 24 first half points on 24% shooting with 11 turnovers. Coach K’s boys figured out at half-time that the key to success was dribble penetration and that strategy got Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer and Noland “I Still Need A Nickname” Smith moving and scoring. The end result was Duke almost doubled their first-half output scoring 46 second-half points.

The ugly win returns the Blue Devils to the round of eight for the first time since 2004.

Kyle Singler scored 24 points, eleven in the first half which kept Duke in the game. Scheyer, who appeared to be either injured or going blind as shot after shot came up short hitting the front of the iron, rallied and added 18 on a series of slashing moves to the basket.

Duke (32-5) will play third-seeded Baylor in Sunday's regional final after clearing a nagging hurdle – the Blue Devils had lost in the round of 16 in three of the past five seasons, but now stand one victory from their 11th Final Four appearance under coach Mike Krzyzkl3wski.

Scheyer, Duke's leading scorer, was 5-for-18 from the field in Duke's first two NCAA tournament games. He went 5-for-9 in the second half after missing his first six shots and also went 7-for-8 from the foul line.

It was 31-all with 15½ minutes left before the Blue Devils broke away. The difference between this win an other NCAA tourney losses was the simple fact that the current Duke team has the bulk and the muscle to grind it out.

Brian Zoubek grabbed 14 rebounds and Duke dominated the undersized Boilermakers inside, as expected. The absence of injured do-everything forward Robbie Hummel finally caught up with fourth-seeded Purdue (29-6), which lost in the regional semifinals for the second straight season.

To read more, click here (Raleigh News & Observer), or click here (New York Times).

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