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As X-pected, Duke in San Antonio

3/29/2004

ATLANTA (AP) -- The freshman gave an impassioned halftime speech,
then backed up his words. The senior gave a lesson in defense,
ignoring the stinging pain in his ribs.

Luol Deng and Chris Duhon.

The kid and old man.

Together, they carried the Duke Blue Devils back to the Final
Four.

Deng made three huge plays in the waning minutes, Duhon shut
down Xavier's big guns and Duke headed to San Antonio with a 66-63
victory Sunday in the Atlanta Regional.

"This has been one of my favorite teams," said Blue Devils
coach Mike Krzyzewski, heading to the Final Four for the 10th time
in search of his fourth national championship.

With Deng and Duhon, it's easy to see why Coach K loves these
Blue Devils.

Let's start with the freshman. Deng hit a 3-pointer off an
inbounds pass that tied the game at 56. Then he corralled an
offensive rebound and passed out to J.J. Redick, who swished a 3
and put the Blue Devils ahead for good with 2:55 remaining.
Finally, Deng soared above the rim to tap back in a missed shot,
giving the Blue Devils a five-point cushion.

Krzyzewski expected the freshman to come up big after the talk
he gave at halftime, with his team trailing by two. Deng wound up
scoring 19 points and being named MVP of the regional.

"Luol got very emotional," Krzyzewski said. "He was crying
and he just stood up and expressed his feelings to the team, that
we needed to play outside of ourselves. For a freshman to do that,
I think it had a tremendous impact on our team."

Now, to the senior. Duhon, playing in pain since hurting his
ribs in the ACC championship game, scored only six points. But, as
usual, the point guard's contributions went far beyond anything on
the stat sheet.

Lionel Chalmers led Xavier with 17 points, but made just six of
16 shots. His backcourt partner, Romain Sato, was held to 10 points
on 2-of-10 shooting. Much of the time, Duhon was the guy in their
face.

"Whatever player was hot, I put (Duhon) on, and he became not
hot," Krzyzewski said. "The kid's a winner, and I was glad to be
able to ride his bus."

Afterward, Duhon sat at his locker, wearing a championship cap,
a net around his neck and a big smile. He's the only significant
holdover from Duke's last national championship team in 2001. He
endured disappointment the last two seasons, when the Blue Devils
were eliminated in the round of 16.

They'll head to the Final Four as the only No. 1 seed still
alive. Next up: Connecticut in the national semifinals Saturday.

"This is probably my favorite team since I've been at Duke,"
Duhon said. "It's an amazing feeling to go out and battle with
these guys. I hope they enjoy it as much as I have."

Xavier's remarkable run came to an end. The Musketeers stunned
Saint Joseph's in the Atlantic 10 tournament and knocked off the
second- and third-seeded teams in the Atlanta Regional.

But they couldn't pull off the trifecta against No. 1 seed Duke
(31-5).

Instead, Xavier will have to be content with getting in some
proselytizing on pronunciation -- it's "ZAY-vee-er" -- and
spreading the word that there's more than one college basketball
team in Cincinnati.

"You've got to be proud of that," Dedrick Finn said. "We made
history.

The seventh-seeded Musketeers also gave Duke everything it could
handle. Over the course of 40 minutes, there were 12 lead changes
and 11 ties, the margin between the teams never higher than six
points.

But Xavier had never been this far in the NCAA tourney, and it
showed in the closing minutes against postseason-savvy Duke, which
improved to 10-1 in regional finals under Krzyzewski.

It didn't help when Anthony Myles, the Musketeers' best inside
player, fouled out with 12{ minutes remaining, having already
contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"You've got to play with what you've got," Chalmers said.
"But it definitely added up."

Myles picked up his fourth and fifth fouls just six seconds
apart, the Musketeers failing to take him off the court before the
refs did it for them. Myles hopped away in disbelief, then
retreated to the bench, covering his face with a towel.

"We were trying to get him out," coach Thad Matta said. "I
guess we were a little slow."

Shelden Williams scored 12 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and
swatted away five Xavier shots.

The Musketeers were just 10-9 at the end of January, in danger
of missing the NCAAs, but they turned things around after Chalmers
berated his teammates following a 21-point loss at George
Washington.

The Musketeers won the A-10 tournament -- ending Saint Joseph's
perfect season with a 20-point victory -- and kept things rolling in
the NCAAs. They upset No. 2 seed Mississippi State, then made it to
a regional final for the first time by beating No. 3 Texas.