GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Duke found the perfect remedy for that
two-game losing streak at the end of the regular season -- a short
trip to the Greensboro Coliseum for the Atlantic Coast Conference
tournament, an almost unbeatable combination.
Three hard-fought victories later, the third-ranked Blue Devils
added another title and likely wrapped up a No. 1 seed in the
tournament that matters the most.
J.J. Redick had consecutive 3-pointers down the stretch to give
clutch free throws in the final seconds and the Blue Devils held
off No. 11 Boston College 78-76 Sunday in the championship game.
Louis Hinnant's heave from about 50 feet right before the buzzer
bounced off the backboard, denying the Eagles the title in their
inaugural ACC tournament.
Of course, this is familiar territory for the Blue Devils
(30-3), who won the tournament for a record 16th time. Seven have
come in the past eight years, an amazing run of superiority for
Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and his program.
Since 1998, the Blue Devils are 25-2 in this event. They are
30-15 in the ACC tournament in this arena.
This one was far from easy, and not simply because Duke lost the
final two games of the regular season. BC knocked off North
Carolina in the semifinals and rallied from a 10-point deficit in
the second half against the Blue Devils.
The Eagles (26-7) led 71-68 before Redick, the tournament MVP,
took over. The second-leading scorer in Division I made one 3 to
tie it before Craig Smith converted two free throws on the other
end. Redick then used a pick from Williams to get free and launched
another jumper from a few steps behind the 3-point line.
As it swished through, he was knocked to the floor by Smith, but
it didn't matter. The Blue Devils were back in front.
Williams' two free throws later increased the margin to four,
and Hinnant brought BC within one again with a leaning 3-pointer.
Paulus converted one at the line to make it a two-point game,
leaving only Hinnant's heave between Duke and another championship.
It didn't go in, and the Blue Devils rushed the court to
celebrate. Smith and Hinnant, meanwhile, fell to the floor and
remained on their backs for several seconds.
Redick scored 26 points while Williams added 18 for Duke.
Hinnant led the Eagles with 20 points and Smith finished with 19
points and 10 rebounds.
For the first time in three tournament games, the Blue Devils
led at halftime, thanks mostly to Redick's 10 points. Yet when BC
went ahead early in the second half, Krzyzewski pulled his star
scorer along with DeMarcus Nelson. Once Redick got to the bench, he
got an earful from assistant Chris Collins.
"I just told him it was his last ACC game, and I didn't feel he
had the fire that makes him the best player in the country,"
Collins said. "I think he got a little angry at me, probably, but
maybe it was a good thing."
It was a common exchange between a coach and a player, one that
was quickly overshadowed by an incident on the court. Paulus dived
to the floor to force a turnover, and as he jumped up to celebrate,
he accidentally hit Hinnant, who returned the shove.
This brought both the teams together in a scrum with pushing and
shoving but no punches, even though Duke's Lee Melchionni and BC's
Jared Dudley came the closest before they were separated. Fouls
were called on Paulus and Hinnant, and during the dead ball, Redick
checked back in.
He needed only a few minutes to show Collins he got the message.
With the Blue Devils in front 48-47, Redick ended three straight
possessions with 3s to give them a 10-point lead, forcing a timeout
by Eagles coach Al Skinner. Redick ran to the bench and excitedly
exchanged chest bumps with Collins, the perfect bookend to their
emotional conference earlier.
"You live and die with your guys, and we've worked a lot
together," Collins said. "To see him respond and then hit those
shots and lead us to another championship was very special to
BC scored the next nine points to get back in it, the final
three coming on a long jumper from Hinnant to set up the frantic
- Karl Hess
- Bryan Kersey
- Jamie Luckie