HOUSTON — This is more like it for Coach K and Duke.
The Blue Devils returned to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004, with Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer helping the top seed pull away in the second half Friday night for a 70-57 victory over Purdue in the South Region semifinals.
Singler scored 24 and Scheyer added 18, snapping out of a shooting slump just in time.
Duke (32-5) faces third seed Baylor in Sunday's region final after clearing a nagging hurdle that had some wondering if the mighty program was losing its edge. The Blue Devils had lost in the round of 16 in three of the past five seasons but now stand one victory from their 11th Final Four appearance under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Scheyer, Duke's leading scorer, was 5-for-18 from the field in Duke's first two NCAA Tournament games. He went 5-for-9 in the second half after missing his first six shots and went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.
It was 31-all with 15½ minutes left before the Blue Devils broke away.
Brian Zoubek grabbed 14 rebounds and Duke dominated the undersized Boilermakers inside, as expected.
The absence of injured do-everything forward Robbie Hummel finally caught up with No. 4 seed Purdue (29-6), which lost in the region semis for the second straight season. Hummel tore his right ACL in late February and watched in street clothes from the bench Friday.
Huge first half lifts Baylor to easy victory
HOUSTON — LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter and Baylor had all the fun, ending what had been an entertaining tournament ride for Omar Samhan and surprising Saint Mary's.
Dunn and Carter hit 3-pointers on their first shots as Baylor rushed to a 46-17 halftime lead and romped 72-49. Sunday, the Bears seek first Final Four berth since 1950, when only eight teams made the field.
More impressive for Baylor, it is another step in redemption nearly seven years after coach Scott Drew took over a program reeling from a murder and scandal that shook the world's largest Baptist university.
Drew had to rebuild with reduced scholarships and a roster gutted when the top three scorers were allowed to transfer.
Dunn and Carter, two top Louisiana high school players, still came. And now they have helped get the Bears, picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll by league coaches, to the Elite Eight.
"That's the reason why we came here; to be a part of something special," Carter said. "It really means a lot to me, this team, this program, for us to come through all the adversity."
Dunn scored 23 with four 3-pointers, and Carter added 14.
Samhan, who had become a breakout star in the tournament with his dominating play in the first two rounds and the one-liners when talking or tweeting, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for the Gaels.
"I've never been more proud of anything in my life than this team and this coaching staff," Samhan said. "So it didn't matter how it ended."