Blue Devils too strong for Terps

March 14, 2009|By CHARLES ODUM

ATLANTA -- The boo birds couldn't keep Duke from reaching another ACC final.

Duke, winners of seven of the last 10 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships, earned a shot at another title despite coming to Atlanta as a No. 3 seed.

Jon Scheyer scored 22 points and Duke rode a 12-2 second-half run to beat Maryland 67-61 on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.

Kyle Singler added 14 points for No. 9 Duke, which will face Florida State today. The Seminoles beat top-ranked North Carolina 73-70 in Saturday's first semifinal.


North Carolina fans led the boos from the Georgia Dome crowd every time coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke players took the court -- with many anticipating the two conference powers would meet in today's championship game. North Carolina closed the regular season with a home win over Duke.

"You have to be careful what you wish for," Scheyer said. "Obviously, we'd like another shot at Carolina. ... It will be tough against Florida State."

Duke (27-6) led only 44-41 before Gerald Henderson's 3-pointer with 8:53 started the 12-2 run. Scheyer and David McClure each had back-to-back baskets in the run, which ended with Duke leading 56-43 with 5:35 remaining.

Eric Hayes answered with four straight points for Maryland (20-13), but he missed a 3-point attempt with 2 minutes left after the Terrapins cut the lead to seven points at 57-50.

"When Duke takes the lead they're a tough team to beat," said senior Dave Neal.

The Terrapins are left to hope its two wins in the tournament will be enough to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee.

"What we've done is for people to judge," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "I'm not part of that selection process, so I don't like to say too much about it. I know we're a very good basketball team right now."

Williams noted his team beat Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina.

"It changes hour to hour, who's on the bubble," he said. "I like what we've done in the best conference in the country in terms of the RPI."

Hayes led Maryland with 20 points, including 15 after Duke's 12-2 run. He scored 15 of Maryland's final 18 points. Greivis Vasquez had 14 points and Adrian Bowie added 10 for the Terrapins.

Vasquez made only 6 of 17 shots.

"Maryland has been on a mission and Vasquez has led them," Krzyzewski said. "I just thought we played good enough defensively to limit Vasquez from dominating the game.

"He was good today, but we stopped him from being great."

Williams said his defense played well but his team didn't make enough late shots to recover from Duke's big run.

"You can't do much better than hold them to 32 and 35 in two 20-minute periods," Williams said. "Duke usually makes you pay if you don't make the shots you're supposed to make."

Duke will be trying to win the ACC tournament for the fourth time as a No. 3 seed. The Blue Devils also were No. 3 seeds when winning titles in 1988, 2003 and 2005.

Duke could land a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament field by beating the Seminoles. Duke swept the regular-season series against Florida State, including an 84-81 home victory on March 3.

Despite its long history of success in the ACC tournament, the Blue Devils haven't won since 2006. Duke lost in the first round in 2007 and won only one game last year.

"We won a couple championships early in my career, but I really wasn't much of a factor," said McClure, a senior. "There would be no better way to end with these guys than to go out and get one. Everybody on our team feels like they are a part of it. Everybody will take ownership of it."

Maryland, playing in its first semifinal since winning the tournament as a No. 6 seed in 2004, was an even bigger underdog as a No. 7 seed this year.

The Terrapins' underdog role was especially obvious against Duke, which swept two games in the regular season, winning by double figures each time. The Blue Devils crushed the Terrapins 85-44 in Durham, N.C., and completed the regular-season sweep with 78-67 win at Maryland.

The third meeting between the teams was close until late in the game.

There were nine lead changes and three ties in the first half, with Duke taking a 32-30 lead at the break. Singler had 12 points in the first half, including two of Duke's six 3-pointers.

Maryland took a brief 34-32 lead in the second half, before a 3-pointer by Scheyer gave Duke the lead for good.

Scheyer and Nolan Smith, who finished with 10 points, combined to make six of eight free throws in the final minute to protect the lead.

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