INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Purdue isn't the offensive juggernaut it was with Robbie Hummel. Yet here are the Boilermakers in the Sweet 16.
Purdue struggled to make baskets in several games after Hummel went down with a torn ACL in his right knee late last month. The Boilermakers (29-5) increased their productivity in NCAA tournament wins over Siena and Texas A&M, and No. 4 seed Purdue has advanced to play No. 1 seed Duke (31-5) on Friday night in Houston.
"When Rob went down, we had to adjust," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We had some growing pains with that, but I think we have."
Chris Kramer, known as a defensive stopper, is averaging 13.5 points and made the game-winning layup in overtime against Texas A&M. Keaton Grant, a senior, scored 11 points in the first-round win over Siena. D.J. Byrd, a seldom-used freshman guard, scored 10 points in the 63-61 overtime win over Texas A&M.
"This is what we're going to have to have for us to continue to win basketball games," Painter said. "Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant both scored in the Siena game, and we win the game. Chris Kramer steps up and scores tonight (against Texas A&M), we're able to win the game. We need those next guys to score — the third, fourth guys to score."
This time they'll have to do it against Duke's trademark man-to-man defense, which helped carry the Blue Devils past California and the Golden Bears' high-scoring trio of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson on Sunday.
Kramer's scoring, in particular, has been important. The Big Ten defensive player of the year has been a capable, but reluctant, shooter throughout his career.
"Chris Kramer can play," Painter said. "He can play a lot of sports. He's just a competitive kid that wants to win and he'll do whatever it takes. If we had Rob up here right now he wouldn't be taking as many shots, and he would be fine with it. That's why he just continues to help us win."
Kramer's assertiveness caught Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon by surprise in overtime. The senior guard averages just 6.7 points per game, but he didn't hesitate to take Purdue's final shot.
"A good play by them, aggressive play by a senior, but really disappointing to just give the layup the way we did," Turgeon said. "You tell the guys that they're probably going to go to Johnson, probably going to go to Moore, but you play by your principles."
Purdue shot 46 percent in its 72-64 win over Siena. Johnson had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and his teammates made up for Moore's 5-for-15 effort from the field.
Purdue shot just 41.3 percent against Texas A&M, but that was better than the Aggies' 35.4 percent clip. Purdue's offense was markedly better than when it produced 44 points against Michigan State on Feb. 28 and 42 points against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament.
The Boilermakers made some corrections after the loss to Minnesota.
"I think our offense was much better," Lewis Jackson said after the Siena game. "It wasn't stagnant, and guys weren't just watching each other play one-on-one."
President Barack Obama said before the NCAA tournament that he felt sorry for Purdue because of Hummel's injury. Purdue never bought into self-pity.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself, you've got to go out there and play," Painter said after the Siena game. "This isn't the time of the year to say 'Well, since we don't have a guy, now we're just going to cash our chips in and go home.' That's not the way it works."