DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Sean Dockery was Christian Laettner, and
Josh McRoberts served as Grant Hill. In one dramatic last-second
play, a new generation of players added to the lore and magic that
is Duke basketball.
All at Virginia Tech's expense.
"You don't think about that stuff when you're out of the
court," Hokies guard Zabian Dowdell said.
He sure got a firsthand look at it.
Dockery made a heave from about 40 feet with less than a second
left, giving the top-ranked Blue Devils an improbable 77-75 victory
over Virginia Tech on Sunday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference
opener for both teams.
It conjured up memories of Laettner's shot at the buzzer that
beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament, when he took a pass from
Hill and swished a jumper from near the top of the key. Much as
Hill did, McRoberts set the play in motion with perfect aim.
"I don't know what I was thinking," McRoberts said. "It was
kind of surreal to watch."
The frantic finish denied the Hokies a stunning upset after they
rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 4½ minutes. Coleman
Collins capped the comeback by tipping in a miss by Zabian Dowdell,
and after conferring with TV replays, the referees put 1.6 seconds
back on the clock for the Blue Devils (7-0).
Coach Mike Krzyzewski drew up a play for burly center Shelden
Williams, but assistant Johnny Dawkins saw Dockery was virtually
unguarded. He urged the senior guard to make himself available for
McRoberts' pass, if Williams should be covered.
That's exactly how it happened.
"I knew I had plenty of time," Dockery said. "I had
confidence in the shot and I knocked it down."
He received the ball just over halfcourt, then took one quick
dribble -- one less than Laettner needed 13½ years ago -- and
launched his shot from the "Coach K Court" decal near the
It rattled in, sending the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy and
giving Virginia Tech (5-3) its second stunning loss in two days. On
Saturday, Marcus Vick and the Hokies' football team lost the ACC's
first championship game to Florida State.
"I'm very proud of our basketball team," Virginia Tech coach
Seth Greenberg said. "We did a lot of things that gave us a chance
to win the basketball game. We just got beat by a great team on a
Shelden Williams dominated throughout and finished with 21
points and 19 rebounds, while J.J. Redick bounced back from first
half foul trouble to add 18 points. Yet with the game on the line,
Dockery was the one who came through.
He finished with a season-high 19 points -- the first time he's
been in double figures all season -- and was 4-of-5 from 3-point
range. Of course, the final one was the most important.
"It felt real good leaving my hand," Dockery said. "Not to
sound cocky or anything, but I knew it had a chance. In practice,
I'm never the one hitting those shots. I guess it makes me about
Collins led the Hokies with 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and
Dowdell added 15.
"We just kept fighting," Dowdell said. "I was real
optimistic. I just felt like something good was going to happen to
This one was tight all the way, featuring 17 lead changes and 12
ties. The Blue Devils finally took control with -- what else? -- with
stingy defense, and Redick and the rest of the guards finally found
range from outside.
Virginia Tech was down 63-61 when Gordon got stripped by
Dockery, and Duke's Lee Melchionni beat everyone down court for
what was going to be an uncontested layup. Gordon hustled down in
an attempt to stop the shot, but he simply shoved Melchionni out of
bounds instead of going for the ball.
An intentional foul was called, giving the ball to the Blue
Devils following two free throws from Melchionni. Redick made the
most of the extra possession by making his first 3-pointer, and
suddenly, the Hokies were down seven.
It quickly got worse. Collins worked inside for an easy basket
before Duke pulled away, thanks to Williams putting back his own
miss, Redick using a nifty behind-the-back dribble to free himself
for an open look and Dockery converting a pair of free throws.
That made it 74-63. On the sideline, Greenberg told his team to
stay patient and to come back one defensive stop at a time.
"That's what we hang our hat on," Dowdell said. "As long as
we keep doing that well, we'll be all right."
The comeback was swift. Nine straight points -- highlighted by
Collins' two dunks -- cut the margin to two and, after Jamon Gordon
made one of two at the line, Williams missed the front end of a
With 11 seconds left, the Hokies got an open look for Dowdell,
and when the ball rolled off the rim, Collins beat Williams to the
rebound to give his team the lead.
It proved to be short-lived.
"I feel very badly for Virginia Tech," Coach K said. "They
gave a winning effort. They never quit and they were certainly
deserving to win. I'm not sure we were."
- Karl Hess
- Gary Maxwell
- Bernard Clinton