Determined and undaunted, 6-3 Chris Kramer bulled past one defender 4 inches taller and flipped a layup over another 6 inches taller. Seconds later, he was being pounded by his own teammates.
A fitting way for Purdue's most rugged player, its soul now that do-it-all leader Robbie Hummel is out for the season, to send the Boilermakers to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament's South Regional.
Kramer's daring drive and layup over Texas A&M big man Bryan Davis with 4.2 seconds remaining in overtime sent fourth-seeded Purdue to a 63-61 victory over the fifth-seeded Aggies Sunday. The bruising, second-round game in Spokane, Wash., just about left dents in the arena's floor.
"I had the ball and went right and crossed over to the left, and it parted like the Red Sea," Kramer said of the A&M defense. "Then it came down to finishing, as Davis came over and tried to block my shot."
Texas A&M's B.J. Holmes got a final, frantic chance to win it with a rushed three-point try from in front of his bench at the buzzer, but it hit short on the rim and Purdue (29-5) moved on. The Boilermakers, who rallied from 11 points down in the second half, will face Duke in Houston on Friday.
This all seemed like a pipe dream a month ago, when the Big Ten regular-season co-champions lost Hummel to a knee injury. Even President Barack Obama thought the Boilermakers, a former top-seed candidate and pick from the Final Four in their home state, wouldn't even get out of the first round. Their players openly spoke of their anger at people slighting them.
The square-jawed, bullish Kramer led the Boilermakers with 17 points, seven rebounds and many dives to the floor for loose balls. The 6-9 Davis had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Aggies (24-10).
Duke 68, California 53Nolan Smith scored 20 points, Kyle Singler added 17 and top-seeded Duke (31-5) dominated Cal in Jacksonville, Fla., to advance to the round of 16.
Brian Zoubek had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who overcame some long-range shooting problems with dominant post play.
The eighth-seeded Golden Bears (24-11) failed to get past the opening weekend for their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.