Baylor, Duke gain elite eight Tennessee advances
HOUSTON — LaceDarius Dunn quickly got the ball back from Tweety Carter to complete the alley-oop dunk, then turned and flashed a wide smile.
Baylor was having all the fun last night, and now the Bears are only one victory from the Final Four.
Dunn and Carter both made 3-pointers on their first shots and later hooked up on their highlight play as Baylor rushed to a huge lead. With a 72-49 romp over Omar Samhan and surprising Saint Mary's in the South Regional semifinal, the Bears have reached the NCAA tournament's round of eight less than seven years after a tragic summer nearly destroyed their program.
"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."
Tomorrow, Baylor will play top-seeded Duke, a 70-57 winner over Purdue.
Dunn and Carter, two top Louisiana high school players who were recruited by other established programs, came to Baylor in the reeling aftermath from a murder and scandal that shook the world's largest Baptist university like nothing in its history.
Coach Scott Drew had to rebuild with reduced scholarships, a roster decimated when the top three scorers were allowed to transfer and an unprecedented half-season after the NCAA considered shutting the program down a whole year. Now that is finally starting to seem like a long time ago.
Led by Dunn and Carter, the team picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll by the league's coaches last fall still has a chance to win the national title. Dunn scored 23 points with four 3-pointers and Carter had 14 points.
"It's a good step for us, hopefully we can take a couple of more," said Josh Lomers, the only senior other than Carter on the roster. "Hopefully it can keep growing for decades in the future."
The third-seeded Bears (28-7) led 46-17 at halftime and could begin looking ahead to tomorrow, when they will play for a chance at their first Final Four since 1950, when there were only eight teams in the field.
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 (28-6).
DUKE 70, PURDUE 57
HOUSTON — This is more like it for Coach K and Duke.
The top-seeded Blue Devils returned to the round of eight for the first time since 2004, with Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer helping them pull away in the second half to beat Purdue in the South Regional semifinals.
Singler scored 24 points and Scheyer added 18, snapping out of a shooting slump just in time.
The Blue Devils (32-5) 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.
"It feels good, but we really can't relax at all," Scheyer said. "We can't enjoy these wins right now. We want to keep moving forward."
JaJuan Johnson scored 23 points and E'Twaun Moore added 18 for Purdue (29-6).
"This team had a great season," Johnson said. "We had a lot of adversity but this team never quit. When a lot of people counted us out, we just moved forward. I think this team just did a good job of coming together through adversity."