- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

J.J. Redick wasn’t about to stop shooting after a frustrating night Friday in the ACC tournament. The result was arguably was one of the most impressive performances in Duke’s rich postseason history.

The Blue Devils’ perimeter assassin scored 35 points as third-seeded Duke rallied with a strong second half to upend No.7 N.C. State 76-69 in yesterday’s second semifinal at MCI Center.

The junior gunner from Roanoke, Va., hit five 3-pointers after the break to lead Duke into the conference final for the eighth consecutive season. It came just a night after he made only four of 17 shots in a quarterfinal defeat of Virginia.

“I just think the biggest difference was that my shots went in,” said Redick, who made 11 of 16. “It felt like I was taking good shots [on Friday], but they were a little rushed. … Once that second half got started [yesterday] and I knew my team needed me to hit some shots, I felt like I couldn’t miss.”

Duke (24-5) advanced to today’s title game against fifth-seeded Georgia Tech (19-10). The Blue Devils will be seeking their sixth title in seven years and their 15th all-time, which would match North Carolina for the most in conference history.

The Wolfpack (19-13) fell a game shy of reaching the tournament final for the third time in four years despite leading by eight early in the second half.

After crisply running its methodical offense for more than a half, N.C. State began to unravel when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski inserted forwards David McClure and Reggie Love. The reserves seemed to spark the Blue Devils’ rebounding, which was poor in the first half.

“We didn’t have the best intensity on defense,” said Redick, whose team outrebounded the Wolfpack 25-14 in the second half. “The turning point in the game was when Reggie and David came in. Other guys fed off their energy. When Daniel and I started hitting big shots, everybody stepped up.”

N.C. State still held a 53-49 lead when the Blue Devils made 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions, three by Redick, to take a six-point lead.

Redick, who made seven 3-pointers in all, matched Bob Verga’s 38-year-old Duke record for points in an ACC tournament game. It was his fourth 30-point game of the season.

“J.J.’s performance was one of the best ever,” Krzyzewski said.

N.C. State got within 63-60, but the Blue Devils then scored eight of the next nine points to clinch the victory.

Still, the Wolfpack nearly took out a top 10 team for the second time in less than 24 hours. After a 6-3 stretch to finish the season, they are likely earn their fourth straight NCAA tournament berth this evening.

“I think our play will speak for itself,” Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. “We’ve had a very strong finish and an excellent season. We feel good about where we stand going into [today].”

So do the Blue Devils, who have been through the ACC final drill plenty of times before. They swept Georgia Tech this season and once again loom as ACC tournament favorites after the upsets of fellow behemoths North Carolina and Wake Forest.

“We expect to be here,” said Ewing, who scored 14 points. “We expect to win championships. That is what this program is about.”

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