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Sweet 16 – Duke vs Purdue Game Notes

Game 37 •  NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen

1-Seed Duke (31-5, 13-3 ACC) vs. 4-Seed Purdue (29-5, 14-4 Big Ten)

Friday, March 26, 2010  •  9:57 p.m. (ET)  •  CBS

Reliant Stadium (70,676)  •  Houston, Texas

The Opening Tip

Duke (31-5, 13-3 ACC) plays Purdue (29-5, 14-4 Big Ten) in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament at Reliant Stadium on Friday, March 29, at 9:57 p.m. (ET). The game will air on CBS with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg calling the action.

The Blue Devils enter the game ranked third in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, while Purdue is ranked 10th in the AP poll and 11th in the Coaches poll.

How the Blue Devils Advanced

Duke posted wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (73-44) and California (68-53) in Jacksonville, Fla., to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the 25th time in school history. The Blue Devils have now advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament 19 times under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Junior Kyle Singler averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the field in the opening two rounds of tournament play. He had a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds in the opening round win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Nolan Smith, a junior guard, scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the win over California. He is averaging 15.0 points and 3.5 assists per game in tournament play. Senior Brian Zoubek went 9-of-10 from the field against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and California en route to recording 10.5 points per game. He is also averaging 8.5 rebounds, including 13 rebounds in the win over the Golden Bears.

Duke’s defense was outstanding in the opening rounds, limiting the opposition to 48.5 points per game and 35.6 percent (36-of-101) shooting from the field.

Numbers Game

l Duke earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history. The Blue Devils are 39-8 all-time as a top seed and have earned a No. 1 seed in nine of the last 13 tournaments.

l The Blue Devils are making their 11th NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last 13 seasons.

l Duke is the No. 1 seed in the South Region for the sixth time in program history. The Blue Devils are 15-5 when playing out of the South Region.

l Duke has won nine straight neutral site games and is 17-1 at neutral sites over the last two seasons.

l Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are attempting to become just the third trio in Duke history to each average over 17.0 points per game. Jim Spanarkel, Mike Gminski and Gene Banks accomplished the feat in 1977-78, while Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy did the same in 2001-02.

l Kyle Singler is averaging 21.5 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from three-point range during Duke’s six-game win streak. He has two double-doubles and has scored 20 or more points four times in that span.

l Nolan Smith is 16 points shy of joining Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler as 600+ point scorers this season. In 2001-02, Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy became the first Duke trio to accomplish that feat.

l Senior Jon Scheyer is 26 minutes shy of moving past North Carolina’s Ed Cota into sixth place in ACC history in minutes played. Former Duke players currently occupy the top five spots in the record books. Scheyer is also four three-pointers shy of entering the top 10 in that category. He is looking to become the fourth Blue Devil to rank in the top 10 of the ACC in career three-point field goals.

l Brian Zoubek has started Duke’s last 12 games and is averaging 6.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in that span. He has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in six of those contests, while scoring in double figures four times.

l Miles Plumlee and Mason Plumlee combine to average 9.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. The duo also has 55 dunks on the season. The Plumlees’ mother, Leslie, played basketball at Purdue from 1980-83.

l Duke is allowing 55.6 points per game in postseason play. The Blue Devils have held three of their five postseason opponents to under 60 points in a game.

l The Blue Devils have won nine of their last 11 games and are 10-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play against the Big Ten.

Checking in on ...

#2 Nolan Smith - +8.8 ppg. increase from a year ago is second-best in the ACC ... 60th player in Duke history to top 1,000 career point mark ... tied for third in the ACC with 15 games with 20+ points scored ... shooting 45.0 percent (95-of-221) from the field in nine neutral site contests

#5 Mason Plumlee - Second on the team with 21 dunks ... tied for second on the team with 29 blocks ... 5 or more rebounds in nine games

#12 Kyle Singler - Seven double-doubles and eight games with 10+ rebounds ... averaging 19.9 points per game while shooting 46.6 percent (41-of-88), since the loss to Georgetown on Jan. 30 (15 games)

#20 Andre Dawkins - Fourth on the team with 34 three-point field goals ... shooting 37.0 percent from three-point range

#21 Miles Plumlee - Leads the team with 31 dunks ... second on the team in field goal percentage at .572 (79-of-138)

#30 Jon Scheyer - Ranks in the top 10 of the ACC in scoring, free throw pct, three-point pct, assists, steals, three-point field goals, assist-to-turnover ratio and minutes ... seventh in ACC history in minutes played ... tied for third in the ACC with 15 games with 20 or more points ... three-time ACC Player of the Week

#34 Ryan Kelly - 14 blocked shots ... played in 33 of 36 games

#42 Lance Thomas - Leads the team with 14 charges taken ... 5+ rebounds in 17 games ... ACC All-Defensive team member

#55 Brian Zoubek - Four or more offensive rebounds 16 times ... averaging 16.5 rebounds per 40 minutes played ... 10-of-11 from the field in the last four games

Big Three Pace Blue Devil Offense

Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith combine to average 53.0 points per game or 68.3 percent of Duke’s scoring.

Scheyer is third in the ACC in scoring at 18.1 ppg., while Singler (17.7 ppg.) and Smith (17.1 ppg.) rank fourth and sixth, respectively. The trio is the highest scoring threesome in the NCAA and the fourth-highest under Mike Krzyzewski.

Bradley, Texas Southern, California, Siena, VMI, New Mexico, Purdue and UC-Davis are the only other schools with three players ranked among the top 10 scorers in their respective leagues.

Duke Assistant Coach Nate James Previews California for BDN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Duke Assistant Coach Nate James took time to break down the California Golden Bears for BDN in this exclusive interview.  James scouted the Bears with fellow assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski and they saw what the nation did in that Cal has three really good guards.

Just press play -

Support Blue Devil Nation by becoming a member of BDN Premium and go behind the scenes on all things Duke.  Read about breaking recruiting news in both football and basketball and discuss the action on the best premium message board out there.

No fear in the competitive Kyle Singler

kyle singler interview
Singler started off the year in the spot light. Now the NCAA is upon us and there is no brighter llight than playing in the South Regional - BDN Photo

Durham, N.C. - Coming off an MVP performance and helping lead Duke to the ACC Tournament Championship, Kyle Singler prepares for the NCAA South Regional where Duke will face Arkansas Pine Bluff.  After the title game this past Sunday, I made a comment to Kyle in an interview about having no fear.  I mean this is the guy who almost wiped out Dick Vitale going into the stands after a loose ball and he talks about that in this audio clip from yesterday's press conference.  By the way, Krzyzewski has nice things to say about Singler in another audio clip posted prior to this.  Plain and simple, Kye Singler is one tough Hombre.

Just press play -

NCAA Sweet 16 Preview – Villanova vs Duke

Can Scheyer hold up against the Wildcats pressure?
Can Scheyer hold up against the Wildcats pressure?

Boston, MA Many have said that Duke and Villanova mirror each other and a quick look at the rosters and stats certainly add validity.  The two schools have eerily similar stats when you look at their scoring averages on both offense and defense.  They both play with no true big man and neither team goes deep into their bench.

Without continuing with tireless comparisons, let's just say these are two great basketball programs, each of which is competitive and equally hungry.  

Each team is more than just a little familiar wth the other.  Coach Krzyzewski and Jay Wright have both worked with USA Basketball and each of them depends on a version of the motion offense and pressure defense when needed.

The players have played together in AAU ball, some even talking to this day over the phone lines.  The two schools have even recruited the same players out of high school and one recent transfer Taylor King, may be dropping hints of how to stop his former teammates after transferring.

When I look at Villanova's losses, I see no bad losses.  Like Duke, they had a "bad road game," where  Clemson and West Virginia blew tonights opponents out, but that was a rarity. 

They have both played Georgetown once and each won a close game and Duke has a win over Texas to get to the Sweet 16, while the Wildcats (28-7)  lost an early season affair with he Longhorns.  Both own wins over Rhode Island, but the Wildcats enjoyed a much more comfortable margin on a neutral court while Duke won a nail-biter at home.

Villanova's only other losses were to #1 ranked Louisville (twice), UConn and Marquette.  On the plus side of the ledger, they swept Syracuse and have a win over #3 Pittsburgh in their only meeting, 2 wins over Marquette among others.  

The Wildcats may have played their best game of the season in their 89-69 blowout win over UCLA to advance to tonights game.  That's the same Ben Howland team that prides itself on their defense.  The game was so physical that Bruins were openly complaining after the contest.

Villanova essentially has seven starters and one reserve which gets minutes in Antonio Pena who adds about 5 points and 5 boards per game.  They come off the bench with the "Two Corey's," Fisher (6-1 guard 10.9 ppg) and Stokes (6-5 swing 9.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg).  Both of these kids are serous players capable of putting on streaky performances.

They start a long line up which includes, Dwayne Anderson (6-6 BF 8.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Shane Clark (6-7 SF 5,4 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Dante Cunningham (6-8 Post F 16.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) up front.  These three guys are all seniors and provide toughness and leadership, with Cunningham being the best of the springy bunch.

While Duke has rebounded the ball well this season, Villanova has done an even better job on the boards.  Their quickness to the ball will have to be matched with desire on the Blue Devils end.

Scottie Reynolds (6-2 PG 15.1 ppg) is the Wildcats leader and he is an explosive player who teams with Reggie Redding (6-5 SG 6.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg) in the back court.  While the starting line up has size, they are most dangerous when Fisher is added to the mix in a three guard set.

In short, Villanova can mix and match their line up in an almost interchangeable way.  When their three point shot is falling like it was against UCLA, they're almost impossible to beat.  In fact, they are 18-1 when they score 75 or more points this season and average 84.5 ppg in the tournament thus far.

The last time Duke was in Boston, they lost to Boston College in a game that caused a shake up in the line up. Duke went on to win 10 of it's last 11 games. and has stuck with Elliot Williams (4.2 ppg) as a starter.

Williams, of course, has provided good on ball defense, but has struggled a bit of late with the three point stroke and free throws.  A good performance by the talented freshman would go a long ways towards helping Duke to a victory.

While Williams was a shot in the arm eleven games ago, Nolan Smith (8.5 ppg) has taken on that role of late.  Smith has looked calm, cool and collected with his play of late.  There is no doubt that playing the off guard has helped there and he has seemingly found his role on this years team.  It is very important that Smith continues with his consistency of late against a talented back court.

It's no secret that the "Big Three." of Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer must be on their "A" game for the Blue Devils to continue their journey and land in the final eight.

Scheyer (14.9 ppg, .8 apg) has been fabulous since taking over the point, but look for the Wildcats to really try and get in his grill early on.  If this happens, he will need to find his teammates for open shots or cutting towards the baskets.  He will then be able to have the ball kicked back out which will hopefully get him an open shot.

Kyle Singler (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) has shown an incredible all around game all season long and that must continue.  Singler will be an important factor on the boards and if he is able to build on his recent success from the three point stripe, he will be a match up problem for the Cat's.

The most important player on the floor for Duke, could be Gerald Henderson.  If you have been reading any stories leading into the game, you know that he grew up in the backyard of Villanova and was recruited heavily by Jay Wright.

Henderson (16.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has the ability to take over games, but you can bet that he will be challenged every step of the way tonight.  Many eyes will be on the Henderson to see how he reacts and if he tries to take too much on himself.

But for Duke to really succeed, they will need players to step up.  One of those players could be Lance Thomas (5,4 ppg, 3.6 rpg).  Thomas has had a couple of good games in a row, but hitting the boards tonight would be more than just a little timely.

Then Duke will look to get some production off the bench from David McClure, Brian Zoubek and Greg Paulus.  McClure is likely to get the bulk of the minutes due to match up problems, but foul trouble could make Krzyzewski go a bit deeper than usual.

Okay, enough rambling, it's time for a pick.  IMO, this game could go either way, but if Duke is hitting the three, then I feel they'll slip past the pesky Wildcats.  There is a little pressure on me after picking Duke 75-70 over Texas where they won 74-69 and I doubt I can reproduce that again.

This will be a game of runs and a few lead changes where each team will leave it all on the court.  The pick here is Duke 74 Villanova 72

Nolan Smith Q & A – Smith talks role change, ‘Nova and more

Nolan goofs on Jon Scheyer while he is being interviewed
Nolan goofs on Jon Scheyer while he is being interviewed

Nolan Smith has been a key component in the Blue Devils' attack since coming back from a concussion suffered against Maryland.  Coach Krzyzewski most recently sang the praises of the sophomore guard, saying that he feels like he has found his role on this season's team.

Smith has been in the news a lot of late, including a recent feature on ESPN's Outside the Lines.  There is no doubt that Duke will need Smith to be at his best in order to defeat Villanova on Thursday evening.  Here are some of Nolan Smith's thoughts from a question and answer session before the Dukies headed to Boston.

Did you have a tough practice today?

Today's practice was quick but very intense and we started going over Villanova and have a good game plan going into the game.

Has the team been able to stay fresh?

We are very refreshed.  The days in between those games we've managed to relax and stay off our feet.  We play those forty minutes and are right back to resting.  We definitely take care of our bodies at this point in the season.

How does the team feel to be going to Boston for the Sweet 16?

This team is very excited to be where we are at.  When we step on that court we're going to let it all out and play as hard as we can.  That's what we have done during these first two NCAA games.

Was there ever a time when you thought the team might not make it to where they have today?  Like after the Clemson game?

Not at all.  Even after that we realized we weren't at our best.  We knew that we're still developing and growing.  Right now, I feel like we are playing very good basketball.  We are getting something from different players every game.

Talk about your relationship with some of the Villanova players -

I played high school basketball with Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham my freshman year at St. John's.  And then Corey Fisher and Stokes were in my class and I have played against them numerous times on the AAU circuit.  So, I have a good feel for all their players and have a good relationship with them off the court as well.

Many have said that Villanova and Duke are similar teams ...

They are very similar to us.  Their Dante Cunningham is our Lance Thomas.  They are not a real big force inside, but both teams shoot a lot of mid-range stuff.  They play with three guards a lot just like we do.

Have you talked with Coach K a lot of late?

We've talked a little bit.  He let's me know you have to be ready for anything.  Role changes may happen and you have to be ready and do what is better for the team.  Since my role change, we've been on a tear and playing great basketball.  And my play has picked up, so ...  He's told me to stay ready and be ready for anything.

Are you comfortable with your new role?

I feel very comfortable.  Before I check into every game, Coach K looks at me and tells me to attack.  So, I try to attack and make plays.  If Jon is not out there, I still have the ability to run the one and set my teammates up.  It's not for a long period of time like at the beginning of the year.

On Zoubek and McClure being in at crunch time versus Texas after Singler and Thomas fouled out -

Coach K lets us know that in order to win a National Championship, we are going to need a whole team.  So they have to stay rested and ready.  Zoubs and Dave and those guys have stayed ready.

Has the emergence of Elliot Williams helped you with your game?

Oh yeah, definitely, I tell him all the time that I'm glad he showed Coach he can really press the ball.  I got tired of doing it the first 22 games by myself.  (smiling while media laughing) It takes a toll on you.  Now that we have two guys that can pressure the ball,  Elliot and I can take turns out there.