HOUSTON -- Some quick thoughts after a hard-played (just ask Chris Kramer) Sweet 16 game between the Duke Blue Devils and Purdue Boilermakers.
I have to start out by giving props to Purdue. Everyone thought the Boilermakers would lose in the first round to Siena, then counted them dead against Texas A&M. This game was supposed to be a walkover. Instead this Purdue team gave Duke everything it could handle. Even with JaJuan Johnson on the bench for large parts of the first half, the Boilermakers kept coming. A team with eyes on an Indy Final Four date won't take much out of a moral victory, but no one will doubt Purdue from here on out.
The difference in the game: Duke had 11 turnovers in the first half and just one in the second. In a game where no one could score much, those early miscues could have lost the Blue Devils the game. But once they solved that problem, they solved the Boilermakers.
The difference between this Duke team and its predecessors is this team can win in ugly games. With a much better defensive mindset the Blue Devils may not have liked a game where they scored only 24 points in the first half, but they could survive it. If the Devils make it back to the Final Four it will get there with its defense.
No big surprise the Big Three did it again: Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith took turns taking over the game. Singler lit it up from outside with four 3-pointers while Scheyer and Smith inched their way to the hoop.