Duke defense collars Big Dog in victory over Purdue
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Big Dog was taken to the pound Saturday night.
Glenn Robinson, Purdue's sensational junior forward, was shut down by Duke's defense as the men's basketball team won the Southeast Regional with a 69-60 win over the Boilermakers. Robinson scored 13 points on 6-of-22 shooting, 17 points below his scoring average. It was his lowest point total of the season.
Also, Boilermaker forward Cuonzo Martin, who had scored 29 points in Thursday's win over Kansas, was held to 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
"We beat an outstanding Purdue team and probably two of the best perimeter players we played against all year long," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The defensive performance by our team -- not just Grant [Hill] and Tony [Lang], but Cherokee [Parks] in the help position and the other kids -- I think was the biggest factor in the game."
Robinson scored 44 points in the win over Kansas, but he never got going against the Blue Devils. Robinson fouled out late in the game for only the second time this season.
The Blue Devils did everything in their power to deny Robinson the ball. And once he received the ball, there was always a hand or two in his face. Even when he beat his defender, there would be another Blue Devil waiting to cut him off, or make him take a tough shot.
"First of all, I don't get frustrated," Robinson said in response to a question about his lack of production in the game. "They played great defense and denied me the ball. They would switch off picks, and it was hard for me to get the ball that way.
"Everyone's going to have a bad game. I hoped it wouldn't happen in the tournament."
Robinson may not have been frustrated, but he was stifled by Duke's intense man-to-man defensive pressure. Both teams played tough `D', but the Blue Devils were just a little bit better.
"They just played great defense," Purdue head coach Gene Keady said. "I guess you'd have to say it's the best [defense we've faced], because it was the biggest game of the year."
The game provided a chance for Hill and Robinson -- considered by many the two best players in the nation -- to go head-to-head. While Hill's stats were not overwhelming -- he had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists -- he guarded Robinson effectively for a majority of the game.
"I did want to play against [Robinson]," Hill said. "He's a great player. I've seen him play a lot this year, and I've wondered what it would be like to compete against a Glenn Robinson. Luckily for me, the coaches devised a plan for how to contain him. I think my teammates -- especially Cherokee's presence and his blocked shot early in the first half -- kind of set the tone for the game."
The blocked shot Hill spoke of came on Purdue's first possession of the game, after Robinson beat Hill off the dribble. Robinson drove baseline and put up a short jumper. Parks came over to swat the shot back in Robinson's face.
Still, blocking shots was not the only way Parks helped Hill out during the game.
"When things would get rough, at every stoppage of play during the game, [Parks] was calling me Big Dog," Hill said. "He made me feel special. So I owe a lot to Cherokee."
But Hill and Parks were not the only ones responsible for leashing the original Big Dog. Lang also put in his share of time on Robinson, with equal success.
Late in the game, with Hill on the bench with four fouls, Lang set up on the baseline and took a charge as Robinson drove to the basket. It was a key play with Duke up six points and four minutes remaining.
"When Grant got his fourth foul, I said a little prayer -- `I hope [Robinson] doesn't go off on me,"' Lang said. "I tried to pressure him and make him take tough shots."
Following the game, Robinson was forced to answer several questions about his performance in the Purdue press conference. He was not a happy Boilermaker, but his pride was still intact.
"I'm not ashamed at all," Robinson said. "I didn't score well, but I had 13 rebounds. Overall, I didin't play bad. You guys are just used to me scoring 44 or 35 points a game. I'm not a scorer -- I'm a player."
As is often the case, the Duke student section found the perfect way to rub things in against a beaten opponent. Once the outcome of the game was certain, the small contingent of Cameron Crazies mocked Robinson's famous nickname and added insult to Purdue's injury.
"Little puppy, little puppy," the students yelled.
Talk about it as you like. The Big Dog was kept on the porch. The Dog's days were over. Lassie went home. The possiblities are endless.
But as far as the Blue Devils are concerned, the only things that mattered were a couple of numbers -- 69 and 60. And those numbers mean Duke will now pack its bags and head to Charlotte for the 1994 Final Four.