HOUSTON—For all the hype, all the anticipation, the disappointment over the loss of Robbie Hummel to the elation of an early round NCAA charge, not much really changed for Purdue.
At the end of the 2009 season, Purdue advanced to the Sweet 16, then lost to top seeded Connecticut. A year later, the same fate.
Following two strong, gritty performances in Spokane, WA and then another in the first 20 minutes against the South Region's top seed Duke, the Boilermakers finally felt the effects of the loss of their versatile and inspirational leader Hummel.
Senior Chris Kramer left it all on the court and then some. He became sick during the first timeout of the game using a garbage bag to do his business. Later, he returned to the game only to be leveled by a punishing screen from the Blue Devils' Brian Zoubek. "Sure we were short-handed, but you don't want sympathy, you don't want people feeling sorry for you. The only thing we could do was go out and lay it all on the court, and we did that today." said Kramer afterwards.
The performance of the Gold and Black was not lost on head coach Matt Painter, "I was proud of our guys. I was proud of their effort, and I thought they did a great job taking care of the basketball with only 7 turnovers, but it really came down to the rebounding." Duke did in fact own the glass outrebounding the Boilers 48-27.
The Blue Devils outscored Purdue by 12 in the second half to win 70-57 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, ending the Boilermakers' season at 29-6 but in the same place which they were a year ago. Purdue would love to end its season here next year as well - Houston is the site of the 2011 Final Four. "We'd love to be at the Final Four, that's the goal." Painter said. "You just move the goal to the next year."
JaJuan Johnson had 23 points and E'Twaun Moore scored 18 but the weren't enough in the final 20 minutes, as the Blue Devils outscored Purdue 46-34 to advance to the South Regional championship.
Six-foot-eight Kyle Singler led the Blue Devils with 23 points while guard Nolan Smith put in 15 to help Duke to the win and a game with Baylor for the right to go to the Final Four in Indianapolis