Devils use muscle under basket to power past 'Pack

Second-half rebounding sends Duke to final, 76-69

Redick scores 35 points

ACC Tournament

March 13, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski kept his team in its dressing room at halftime of yesterday's ACC tournament semifinals a little longer than usual, putting particular emphasis on a lack of rebounding that had contributed to North Carolina State's four-point lead.

When the seventh-seeded Wolfpack doubled that lead in the first 98 seconds of the second half, Krzyzewski called a timeout and delivered his message a little stronger, replacing center Shelden Williams and forward Shavlik Randolph with little-used reserves Reggie Love and David McClure.

Duke got its coach's point - and 35 of them from star guard J.J. Redick - to blow past the Wolfpack, 76-69, at MCI Center.

The victory sent the third-seeded, fifth-ranked Blue Devils into today's 1 p.m. championship game, their eighth straight in the ACC tournament. Duke (24-5) will meet fifth-seeded Georgia Tech, a 78-75 upset winner over top-seeded North Carolina.

"N.C. State really ran their offense great in the first half, and we didn't have our best intensity on defense," Redick said. "The turning point in the game was when Reggie and Dave came in, and other guys kind of fed off their energy, and when me and Daniel [Ewing] hit some big shots, everybody started stepping up."

Asked to explain his team's surge in rebounding in the second half, turning a 20-10 deficit in the first half into a 35-34 advantage for the game, Krzyzewski said: "They missed some shots in the second half, so you get more defensive rebounds. The sets we were running in motion in the second half put our big guys right by the boards."

Williams, who didn't have a rebound in the first half and only six points, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Freshman DeMarcus Nelson had nine rebounds, including six on the offensive boards. But it was Redick's performance that was the difference, and was much simpler for Krzyzewski to explain.

"J.J.'s performance was one of the best ever," Krzyzewski said.

It was not just Redick's 11-for-16 shooting, including 7-for-12 on threes, that propelled the 6-4 junior to one of the top games of his already impressive college career. Attracting double and sometimes triple teams as the afternoon wore on, Redick also contributed six assists while playing all 40 minutes.

"It definitely ranks among my top three as far as a complete offensive game," Redick said. "Being able to create for other guys, having five or more assists is a good thing as well as being able to shoot that well."

In contrast, N.C. State star Julius Hodge had a forgettable performance. Hodge finished with just 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting and didn't get his first field goal of the second half and only his second of the game until there were a little more than three minutes left and Duke was in control.

After shooting 16-for-31 in the first half, N.C. State (19-13) was a dismal 8-for-24 in the second half.

"To Duke's credit, they continued to play good, hard-nose aggressive defense, and we probably weren't as sharp in the second half as we have been here recently," said N.C. State coach Herb Sendek.

Ewing, who harassed Hodge into several forced shots while scoring 14 points himself, said he didn't try to get into his opponent's head as much as he tried to keep a hand or two in his face.

"I knew he wasn't really getting off the way he'd like to, especially because he's a big key for how they go," Ewing said.

While some were recalling a similar performance Redick put on as a freshman by scoring 30 in the ACC tournament championship game against the Wolfpack - the last of five straight titles for Duke - what seemed fresher on the Blue Devils' minds was what happened last year in Greensboro, N.C., when they lost the championship game to Maryland in overtime.

"You have to talk about it, and we talk about, because we let a championship slip out of our hands," Ewing said. "We're preparing to not let happen [today]."

N.C. STATE-Hodge 4-11 2-2 11, Brackman 4-9 4-8 13, Evtimov 4-10 0-0 11, Bennerman 4-7 0-0 9, Atsur 4-10 3-3 12, Grant 2-4 3-4 7, Watkins 2-2 1-1 6, Simmons 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 13-18 69. DUKE-Melchionni 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 7-11 1-5 15, Redick 11-16 6-7 35, Ewing 5-14 0-0 14, Randolph 3-7 0-1 6, McClure 1-1 0-0 2, Nelson 1-5 2-6 4, Love 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 9-19 76. Half-N.C. State, 38-34. 3-point goals-N.C. State 8-25 (Evtimov 3-8, Watkins 1-1, Brackman 1-2, Bennerman 1-3, Hodge 1-3, Atsur 1-7, Grant 0-1), Duke 11-23 (Redick 7-12, Ewing 4-7, Melchionni 0-2, Nelson 0-2). Fouled out-Atsur. Rebounds-N.C. State 34 (Evtimov 8), Duke 35 (Nelson, Williams 9). Assists-N.C. State 11 (Hodge 6), Duke 16 (Redick 6). Total fouls-N.C. State 19, Duke 18. A-20,301.

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