KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Thompson-Boling Arena was the Dog House Thursday night.
Purdue's Glenn Robinson, otherwise known as "Big Dog," scored 30 first-half points on his way to a 44-point effort as the Boilermakers defeated Kansas 83-78 in an NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional semifinal. Purdue will now face Duke Saturday night at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Final Four next week in Charlotte.
Robinson was his usual dominant self, but one of his little puppies, guard Cuonzo Martin, also came up big. Martin had 29 points, including 8-of-13 from three-point range, as the Boilermakers' one-two punch accounted for 73 of Purdue's 83 points. It was too much for the Jayhawks to overcome.
"I feel very good because we beat a great coach with a great program," Purdue head coach Gene Keady said. "Kansas has been tough to beat in the NCAA, just like Duke has been. We've made another step forward against a great program."
Kansas' defense was geared to slowing down Robinson, which was an impossible task. The junior All-American hit on 15-of-33 shots, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, and he also grabbed seven rebounds.
"Glenn Robinson and Cuonzo Martin were fantastic," Kansas head coach Roy Williams said. "I know Glenn got all the talk, and he deserved 99 percent of it. But I don't think Glenn Robinson beat us by himself. Purdue's team beat Kansas' team."
"We're not a one-man team," Robinson said. "When they come at me, they're leaving Cuonzo open for eight three-pointers."
Still, the game was clearly Robinson's from the start.
He scored Purdue's first 10 points, and the Boilermakers hung on to a tenuous 44-42 lead at the half.
In the second half, Martin took over, and he actually outscored Robinson 20 to 14 after the break.
"I think [Martin] was really a key for their team," said Kansas forward Richard Scott, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. "Everyone expected Glenn to get his points, but Cuonzo was on fire. I think he was on fire just as much as Glenn was."
Still, Purdue could not put Kansas away. The Boilermakers opened up their biggest lead of the game at 68-54 with 11:58 to go, but Kansas went on a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to one point. The Jayhawks trailed 78-76 with 3:35 remaining, but Purdue made its last six free throws to ice the game.
"If you like college basketball, you had to like the way both teams fought," said an emotional Williams. "I've been coaching for 29 years, and I don't know that I've ever enjoyed coaching a team as much as this one."
The Purdue win set up a matchup between Robinson's squad and Grant Hill's Duke team. The two are considered by many to be the top pair of players in college basketball.
Williams offered his assessment of the matchup.
"Grant Hill and Glenn Robinson are two of the premier players in college basketball," Williams said. "But it would not surprise me if some of the supporting cast stepped up and made the difference."
Purdue has now reached the regional finals for the first time under Keady. Duke, on the other hand, has been to six previous regional finals under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and the Blue Devils are undefeated in those games.
"Duke's a big-time ballclub," Martin said. "They're well-coached, and they have an exceptional player in Grant Hill."
For Hill, it will be a chance to prove he can play with Robinson, whom many feel is far-and-away the best player in the country. The Duke players even gave Hill a nickname during the week in anticipation of the potential Duke-Purdue matchup.
"We've been calling [Hill] the Dog Catcher the last couple of days," center Cherokee Parks said.