Kyle Singler leaped to steal a pass Friday night and quickly passed ahead to Jon Scheyer to start a Duke fast break.HOUSTON, Texas –
The Blue Devils were desperate for a knockout shot in the South Regional semifinals against a determined Purdue team. As Scheyer rushed down the court, he looked over his shoulder at teammate Nolan Smith.
Immediately, Smith knew what Scheyer wanted. Smith, Scheyer and Singler have performed a synchronous basketball ballet all season, utilizing their complementary skills to lead the Blue Devils (32-5) to within one game of the Final Four.
Top-seeded Duke meets No. 3 seed Baylor (28-7) at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday in the South Regional final at Reliant Stadium, in large part because its three primary scorers have carried the team. Purdue coach Matt Painter said there's not a better trio of guards in the country.
"They're not just good shooters," Painter said. "They get to the free-throw line. They drive the basketball. They create for their teammates. They've got intermediate games. . . They've got the whole package, and it's why they're a No. 1 seed."
Scheyer, Singler and Smith combined for 57 of Duke's 70 points Friday and have accounted for 67.6 percent of the Blue Devils' scoring this season. Their 53.1 combined points per game is the highest this season for any group of three players on any Division I team.
They've done it by looking for each other. Early in the second half Friday, Smith delivered driving, inside-out passes to Scheyer and Singler for 3-pointers.
With Duke ahead by six, Smith knew Scheyer would find him on the fast break.
"He knew where I was," Smith said. "He glanced over his shoulder as he was in front of me. And I knew just to get there and be ready, and he was going to pitch it back."
Smith settled right in front of Duke bench, and Scheyer pitched a pass back to him. Smith delivered a 3-pointer to extend Duke's lead to 49-40 with eight minutes remaining.
College basketball's most formidable trio had struck again and would survive to play another game.
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- Duke Basketball Database