Duke's sharpshooter misfires, for once

SAN ANTONIO -- J.J. Redick sat in front of his locker, his face flushed and blotchy, his hair a disheveled mess. He had taken that shot hundreds, thousands of times before and watched the bottom of the net flip up in joyous fashion.

Whether it was in his gravel driveway back in Roanoke, his high school gym or Cameron Indoor Stadium, it's what Redick does -- take shots, often big ones, and make them.

Just not tonight.

With five seconds left and the Blue Devils down by three, Redick fought through a series of screens, got an open look, squared up behind the 3-point line and released his trademark jumper.

Perfect release. Perfect rotation. Perfect shot.

"I thought it was going in," Redick said.

"I would have bet everything that shot was going down," teammate Shavlik Randolph said. "When you see that No. 4 jersey pull up like that, you know he's going to make it."

Only this time, he didn't. Nor had he converted on the previous possession, when his teammates put the ball in his hands and Redick found a lane, drove to the basket and had the ball stripped by Rashad Anderson.

Duke fans begged for a foul. Coach Krzyzewski called foul. "You killed us!" Krzyzewski yelled at the refs. "You killed us!"

"J.J. made a great play, I thought," Krzyzewski said after the game. "You're either trying to score or you're trying to get fouled or both. We didn't get any. And that was the game right there."

Pressed on the lack of a foul call after the game, Redick wouldn't bite.

"They took the ball from me, OK?" he said. "No excuses."

When the game finally ended, Redick's thoughts raced to one place. Not the fact that he failed to convert on two critical possessions. Not the fact that his team uncharacteristically blew an eight-point lead with 3:28 left.

But to Chris Duhon.

"I can't believe that I'll never play with Chris again," Redick said. "That's tough to comprehend."

It was Duhon whom Redick called back in high school to get little tidbits on what he should expect in Durham. It was Duhon who took Redick under his wing, showed him the nuances of the game, explained what Coach K expects, pointed out the tendencies in different ACC officials.

"He's meant everything to me," Redick said. "Going all the way back to high school."

When the Blue Devils held senior night against North Carolina a couple weeks ago, it was Redick who became emotional at the thought of losing his closest teammate.

Now that transition will happen 48 hours sooner than Redick would have liked. Thanks in large part to Duke's failure to execute in the last three minutes.

"We settled," said Duhon, who leaves Duke as the ACC's second-winningest player. "Instead of realizing we were in the double bonus and taking the ball to the basket, we settled for jump shots."

Which didn't go in.

"They hit shots and we didn't," Redick said. "That's what it came down to."

Next time, Redick claims, those shots will fall. The offense will execute. The defense will clamp down. There will be enough depth to handle any foul trouble.

He promises.

"We will be back here next year," Redick said. "Write that down -- we will be back in the Final Four."

Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.