Duncan fouls up Clemson bid, 68-60 Saddled with 4 fouls, center still leads Wake into final

March 10, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Wake Forest coach Dave Odom was resolute when 6-foot-10 center Tim Duncan drew his fourth personal foul with nearly seven minutes left in yesterday's Atlantic Coast Conference semifinal.

"I did not question taking Tim out of the game because of his foul situation," Odom said later. "He's played enough basketball at Wake Forest to know what he can and can't, should and shouldn't do. He's going to be in the game and he understands that."

Odom was rewarded for his confidence. Duncan scored seven points down the stretch, including an untoward-looking jumper off the glass, to guide the 12th-ranked Demon Deacons to a wire-to-wire, 68-60 victory over Clemson at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Second seed Wake Forest (22-5) will play first seed Georgia Tech (22-10) in the ACC's championship game today at 1 p.m.

The defending champion Deacons can become the first ACC team to repeat since North Carolina turned the trick in 1981-82.

Wake Forest and Georgia Tech split the season series in two very competitive games. Wake won, 66-63, in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Tech won, 64-63, in Atlanta.

"They're playing the best basketball in our league," Odom said of the Yellow Jackets, who are shooting for their fourth ACC tourney title in 12 years.

The Deacons needed a big game from Duncan (22 points, 19 rebounds) and a key contribution from point guard Tony Rutland (20 points) to outlast the Tigers (18-10).

Although Clemson never led in the game, it pulled within four points twice in the final 3: 11. Each time, Wake responded with big plays.

The first was Duncan's running 13-foot one-hander with 2: 23 left that put Wake up 60-54. After Clemson's Terrell McIntyre scored on a driving layup at 1: 51, Rutland hit a 24-foot three-pointer to open a 63-56 lead.

McIntyre (15 points) scored again at : 31, and then Rutland dunked on an assist from Duncan for a 65-58 lead.

"Probably the two big shots in the game were Tim's 'Oh, I'm sorry I shot the ball -- oops, no I'm not' -- jumper," Odom said. fTC "The other was when Tony knocked in a three with the shot clock running down. Without those two shots, I don't know that we could have hung on."

Duncan even joked about his ugly jumper.

"I called a bank [shot]," he said. "It didn't hit the glass on the first [bounce], but hit before going in. That's the rule."

The rule at Wake is that Duncan will play at critical times with four fouls. Odom said that while he was dismayed by the foul call with 6: 57 left, he was buoyed by Duncan's poised reaction.

"His ability to stay composed had a nice ripple effect on the game," Odom said.

Thanks to Duncan's dominance inside, the Deacons out-rebounded Clemson 39-27.

After the game, both Odom and Clemson coach Rick Barnes politicked for the Tigers to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

Odom was eloquent in his support for the Tigers.

"I have an awful lot of respect for Clemson, more and more every time we play them," he said. "They are an upper-division team in this league next year, if not already.

"If there are 30 better teams in this country, I have not seen them. They've beaten every team in the league, and only two other teams can say that. We should have six teams going to the tournament."

Barnes, in his second season at Clemson, said of the Selection Committee: "If they don't put us in, they're crazy. We're 18-10 in the highest-ranked conference. When they run the numbers, I hope it's good enough to get us in." Pub Date: 3/10/96

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