Duke Wins ACC Championship; Defeat Florida St. 79-69
March 15, 2009
ATLANTA (AP)--Duke is back in a familiar position: champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The No. 9 Blue Devils swamped upstart Florida State with a barrage of 3-pointers on the way to a 79-69 victory in the title game Sunday, giving Duke its ninth ACC crown in 12 years.
Jon Scheyer scored 29 points, Gerald Henderson had 27 and the Blue Devils (28-6) turned in one of its most complete performances of the season to keep their Tobacco Road heirloom from heading down to the Sunshine State. It couldn't have come at a better time, with NCAA bids going out later Sunday.
How complete? Duke had more steals (five) than turnovers (four), outrebounded the taller, bulkier Seminoles 35-34 and buried Florida State with a 12-of-25 showing from beyond the arc.
Toney Douglas led the No. 22 Seminoles (25-9) with 28 points but that wasn't nearly enough to give the school its first ACC championship. Florida State will have to be content with knocking off top-ranked North Carolina in the semifinals and earning its first NCAA bid since 1998.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, following up his gold-medal triumph as coach of the U.S. Olympic team, captured the 11th conference championship of his career. Now he'll turn his attention to the quest for a fourth national title.
The Blue Devils put this one away early. After Douglas hit a 3-pointer to give Florida State its final lead, 11-9, Duke ripped off 14 points in a row-- all but two of them coming from long range.
Henderson worked off a pick and sank a 3-pointer, then Kyle Singler hit three straight treys to complete the run. He swished one out of the corner and came off a screen for a wide-open look from the top of the key that gave the Blue Devils a 23-11 lead.
Duke was up 35-21 at halftime, taking advantage of miserable shooting (5 of 23) by a Florida State team that had won two down-to-the wire games to get to the championship, but suddenly looked out of place.
Coming off a 73-70 upset of North Carolina, the Seminoles turned it over 13 times and only a late shooting blitz kept it from being a total blowout. Douglas was basically a one-man show, though Chris Singleton did chip in with 15 points.
Florida State made a brief spurt in the second half, closing the gap to 42-36 when Ryan Reid laid it in with just over 12 minutes remaining, prompting Duke to call a timeout.
But the Blue Devils, who shot more 3-pointers than any team in the ACC, turned to a familiar weapon to finish off the Seminoles. Scheyer hit a momentum-breaking 3, then got knocked to the court by Derwin Kitchen while putting up another shot beyond the arc. He sank all three free throws, stretching the lead back to 48-38.
From there, Duke pulled away. Singler came up with a steal, and Nolan Smith made a floater in the lane. After Duke snatched an offensive rebound, Henderson buried a 3 from the corner. Smith threaded a brilliant pass to Henderson for a dunk, Scheyer flipped in a no-look shot after turning his back to the basket on a drive, then Singler and Scheyer made back-to-back treys to give the Blue Devils their biggest lead, 65-43, with 6 1/2 minutes to go.
As an added bonus to winning an ACC title after North Carolina was sent packing, Duke pulled even with the Tar Heels for the most wins in ACC tournament history. Both schools have 84.