Duke Tops Purdue 70-57, Reaches Three Billionth Elite Eight In School History

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Duke 70, Purdue 57: Singler Leads Way To Elite Eight With 24 Points

For more, check out our Purdue blog, Hammer and Rails.

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Kyle Singler recorded 24 points and eight rebounds, and Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith recovered from a rough first half to help Duke defeat upset-minded Purdue, 70-57, in the South Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Scheyer and Smith, who combined to shoot 2-for-16 in the first half, finished with 18 and 15 points, respectively, for the top-seeded Blue Devils (32-5), who shot 57.7 percent from the field in the second half to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.

Brian Zoubek pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to pace a 48-27 rebounding edge for Duke, which will now face Baylor with a Final Four berth on the line on Sunday. The Bears blew out Saint Mary's, 72-49, in Friday's opener at Reliant Stadium.

JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore registered 23 and 18 points, respectively, as the Boilermakers (29-6) fell in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.

Though seeded fourth, Purdue surprised most with wins over 13th-seeded Siena and fifth-seeded Texas A&M in the first two rounds of the tourney after an embarrassing exit in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament to Minnesota.

The Boilermakers held their own against the ACC champions, though Duke never trailed in the final 20 minutes to come away with its 15th win in 16 games.

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Duke Vs. Purdue: Blue Devils Trying To Prove They Deserved That One-Seed

 

Road to the Regional
Boilermakers: Defeated Siena, 72-64, and Texas A&M, 63-61 (OT)
Blue Devils: Defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 73-44, and California, 68-53

The Boilermakers have stunned many so-called experts (including yours truly) who figured they were in for a very short stay this tournament. Matt Painter's team has turned on the defense (62.5 ppg in the Tournament, while holding both opponents to field goal percentages in the low to mid 30s), but the offense is still struggling withoutRobbie Hummel (shooting only in the low to mid 40s with double-digit turnovers in both efforts), which is going to be a challenge against Duke.

Our Purdue blog, Hammer And Rails, thinks a win is possible, but it will take a true team effort for it to happen.

This game will be won by Purdue if we can provide constant general disruption on defense to their offensive flow. We have to challenge every pass and every shot. We have to drag them down into our style of basketball. Duke can be beaten. They have some bad losses and a few too close for comfort wins against teams they should dominate.

The Blue Devils had no trouble with either one of their first two opponents, even with Jon Scheyer struggling last time out (7 points on a 1 for 11 effort against Cal). Pomeroy's numbers indicate that the Boilermakers are a bit stronger on interior defense than on the perimeter, but Duke has more manpower inside, led by Brian Zoubek and the Plumlees, meaning JaJuan Johnson will have his hands full. The Blue Devils are more consistent on the scoring front too, thanks to the efforts of Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Their presence will make the Boilermakers' task that much more difficult.

My pick: Duke

Read more at our Blue Devil blog, Duke Basketball Report.

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