3:30 PM ET, March 12, 2005
Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Like most scorers, J.J. Redick didn't fret after one bad game. He knew he was only one jumper away from a streak, so he waited patiently for it to come.And did it ever. The Duke guard carried his team to its seventh consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final with a spectacular individual effort, making seven 3-pointers and scoring 35 points to lead the fifth-ranked Blue Devils past North Carolina State 76-69 Saturday. A day earlier, Redick missed 11 of his first 12 shots and finished 4-for-17 against Virginia, but his teammates picked up the slack. Their efforts certainly were appreciated in this one, even if Redick needed little help. "Just having the mentality to take the next shot," he said. "I didn't really dwell on it. I was 4-for-17. I knew eventually my shots would fall." He surpassed Ronnie Mayer's previous school record of 34 points for an ACC tournament game, set in the 1955 semifinals. Redick was the second player to reach that total Saturday; Will Bynum matched it in Georgia Tech's upset of North Carolina in the earlier game, and the Yellow Jackets will play in the final against Duke (24-5), which is looking for its sixth title in the past seven years. "J.J.'s performance was one of the best ever," Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Redick made the most of a quick reminder from his coach to score at least 30 points for the fourth time this season. "Coach just talked to me about thinking of whoever is guarding me," Redick said. "To set my shot up before I ever took it. I did that." Shelden Williams added 15 points and Daniel Ewing had 14 for the third-seeded Blue Devils, who held on despite missing six free throws in a row down the stretch. The Wolfpack (19-13) couldn't take advantage. Ilian Evtimov and Engin Atsur each missed 3s in the final minute that would have cut the deficit to three, and NC State was left hoping its spirited effort during the first two days was enough to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. "I think we proved some people wrong this tournament," guard Cameron Bennerman said. "It feels good to perform well. For me, it's a hard pill to swallow right now, because I thought we could have won. But I'm trying to put it behind me and see what we have for the NCAAs." Freshman Andrew Brackman scored 13 points and Atsur had 12, but the Wolfpack shot only 33 percent in the second half and were outrebounded 25-14. They were without point guard Tony Bethel (groin) for the second straight game, and center Jordan Collins (separated shoulder) also was on the bench. And with Redick back on form, Duke was tough to beat. "J.J. was great," teammate Lee Melchionni said. "It's fun to watch when we play like that." Redick swished a 3-pointer midway through the second half to give the Blue Devils the lead for good, using a screen from Williams that knocked defender Gavin Grant to the floor. He drained another jumper from beyond the arc seconds later after Williams and Shavlik Randolph kept the possession alive with offensive rebounds, then answered two free throws by Julius Hodge with his third 3 in about 90 seconds to make it 61-55. NC State rallied within three points on two free throws by Atsur, but Redick again responded on the other end. This time, he deftly fed Williams for a layup, then put the game away with his final 3-pointer for a 10-point lead, and Duke was headed back to the final. "A lot of people keep asking us, 'Does it mean a lot for you to play in this tournament?'" Coach K said. "And the old expression, actions speak louder than words, was so apparent this afternoon in this basketball game. Both teams played great, great basketball." The Wolfpack sprinted to a pair of eight-point leads soon after halftime, running their Princeton-style offense to perfection. Evtimov and Atsur both had 3s during the run, with Atsur's coming after a nifty behind-the-back pass from Evtimov. Soon after, Redick went back to work, and NC State had no answers. "It's very frustrating to lose, especially when during the game you're up eight to start the second half," Evtimov said. "They just kicked our butts on the rebounds, and we didn't find a way to stop J.J. Redick. And consequently, we lost."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-55 (.436)||28-56 (.500)|
|3P Made-Attempted||8-25 (.320)||11-23 (.478)|
|FT Made-Attempted||13-18 (.722)||9-19 (.474)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|