(7) Xavier 63

(26-11, 10-6 A 10)

(1) Duke 66

(31-5, 13-3 ACC)

    5:05 PM ET, March 28, 2004

    Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

    1 2 T
    #7XAV 30 3363
    #1DUKE 28 3866

    As X-pected, Duke in San Antonio

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press



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