Brian Zoubek's hard screen.HOUSTON, Texas – There was Chris Kramer, sprawled out on the floor, not moving very much during the second half of Duke's 70-57 victory over Purdue. It was the product of
After a scary moment, Kramer, one of Purdue's toughest players, got up and came back in the game.
But the message was clear — Duke has been out of the Final Four for too long and is determined to get back, and this victory in the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament allows them to continue the quest.
If Purdue (29-6) was going to have any chance of defeating Duke (32-5) without Robbie Hummel, it would have to make the contest nails-on-chalkboard painful to watch.
It needed to slow the pace and play a physical game, sort of like it played in the Big Ten for much of the season.
But Duke beat Purdue at its own game and for the first time since 2004, the Blue Devils have reached the Elite Eight.
"I thought this was an example of a game someone doesn't lose," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We had to really win this game."
Given the high standards Krzyzewski has set for the program in his tenure, that alone is not satisfactory. Duke now will face Baylor on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis on the line.
Zoubek has given teammates stitches with screens that he sets in practice, but he wasn't the only one who came prepared to match Purdue's physical play.
"(Purdue) played so hard, really hard," Krzyzewski said. "I thought for the first 17 minutes of the game, we were playing hard, they were playing harder. For the rest of the game, we either played as hard or harder than them."
The defining moment came when Nolan Smith, who shot 2-for-10 in the first half, scored seven straight points to give Duke a nine-point lead with 7 minutes 58 seconds remaining.
For Purdue to be successful in Hummel's absence it needed someone other than E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to help shoulder the scoring load. That didn't happen Friday. Johnson and Moore were a combined 17-for-35, the rest of the Boilermakers just 3-for-19.
Jon Scheyer had 18 for Duke, while Smith finished with 15 and Kyle Singler had 24.
"We've been in some tough games throughout the year, some really tough games," Scheyer said. “So when we look at each other, we know what we need to do as a team."