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ACC Live Blog: Duke ousts N.C. State, 75-67

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -

WNCN's Dane Huffman is writing live on the ACC semifinals, and WNCN's Todd Gibson (video) and Jeff Reeves (stills) will report from Greensboro as well.

DUKE WINS: Duke is back in the championship game after beating N.C. State 75-67 Saturday in the semifinals.

The Blue Devils advanced despite a poor free-throw shooting effort and will play Virginia in the final. 

Warren had 21 points for N.C. State, but he had a hard time scoring in the second half.

Duke got a balanced scoring effort, with Jabari Parker finishing with 20 while Rasheed Sulaimon had 16, Rodney Hood 14 and Quinn Cook another 14.

Duke won despite hitting only 12 of 23 shots from the foul line, a miserable effort from a program that usually excels there.

FREE THROWS: Duke still leads 71-61 despite poor foul shooting, but N.C. State's T.J. Warren just missed two free throws and you get the sense the Pack is running out of time. There are only 47.8 seconds left.

N.C. State has had a marvelous tournament, but the fact that Virginia beat Pitt, and Duke appears ready to beat N.C. State, is a reminder of why being in the top four in the regular season is so important. A team playing on the third straight day is at a major disadvantage against a team playing a second straight day.

It's now 72-65 after a Duke turnover and a Cat Barber jumper for N.C. State, with 27.7 seconds to play.

GREAT PLAY: Rodney Hood just missed the front end of a one and one for Duke - which could have been huge - but Duke's Jabari Parker shot in, grabbed the rebound and dunked. That made the score 69-59 and N.C. State could be running out of time.

Cat Barber just made two free throws for State - Duke, 69-61 with under 2 minutes.

DUKE MILKING CLOCK: Duke is looking to milk the clock here, with the players spread out and letting the shot clock drop to 10 seconds before trying to score.

It's a smart strategy with less than four minutes to play, and the Devils have been doing this since around the 6 minute mark. You have to image N.C. State is tired, and frustrated, and having to play defense for 35 seconds is no fun, especially when you know a foul puts a good Duke shooter on the line.

A big key for Duke has been improved defense. State's Warren has only four points in the second half and State's offense has looked disjointed. You can look at the Wolfpack bench and see signs of discouragement.

One point in State's favor - Duke has made only 2 of its last 7 free throws. And State's Lennard Freeman just converted a three-point play, so it's 67-57 Duke with 3:44 to play.

BAD PLAY BY N.C. STATE: N.C. State just had a brutal play. The Blue Devils, with a big lead, are being patient on offense to run the clock. With the shot clock almost out, Rasheed Sulaimon fired up a three-pointer, and N.C. State defender Kyle Washington fouled him. It was one of those plays that had Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried groaning on the sidelines.

Believe it or not, Sulaimon missed all three, and Dukes lead remains 65-54.

DUKE BY NINE: T.J. Warren just ripped the ball away from Duke, put the shot up and scored to make it 63-54. That led to a Duke timeout, where coach Mike Krzyzewski told his team they can't allow moments like that.

Still, this is an impressive run in the second half for Duke. The Blue Devils have been relentless on the offensive end, putting pressure on State to keep up. And State has had a hard time matching the Blue Devils.

Duke ran Tyler Lewis out of the game as Rasheed Sulaimon blew past him for a score.

State's Ralston Turner hit a tough three-pointer to tie the score at 45 all, but after that, Duke took total command. Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Tyler Thornton for three, Amile Jefferson, Parker again and then Hood again put the Blue Devils ahead 58-47.

The lead has basically hovered around double digits since then, and you wonder if N.C. State, playing its third straight game, has the juice in its legs for a stretch run.

DUKE ON A TEAR: Duke has come roaring out of the locker room and now leads N.C. State 63-52 with 8:20 left in the game.

N.C. State, despite a torrid shooting stretch in the first half, is having a hard time getting baskets this time. Warren has only three points in the second half.

Meanwhile, Duke has been getting excellent play from Jabari Parker, Rasheed Sulaimon and others from outside as the lead has steadily grown.

HALFTIME: Duke leads N.C. State 39-38 at halftime. N.C. State shot 67 percent in the first half, and T.J. Warren had 13 points.

Duke's Jabari Parker responded with 11 points and Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon each had seven. Duke also shot 5 of 12 from three-point range after a slow start from long range;

The only player in any foul trouble is Duke's Tyler Thornton, who has three.

By the way, N.C. State has been called for only five fouls and Duke has been whistled for nine.

DUKE UP: State and Duke are trading big shots in what has been a well-played game so far. After three days of mostly tense games, but mediocre offensive performances, this game looks like an old-school offensive effort.

State is shooting 71 percent right now, which is pretty blistering against a team like Duke. The Blue Devils didn't start shooting well but are 5 of 12 from three-point range now. 

Duke's Jabari Parker just scored, was fouled, and hit a free throw to put Duke up, 37-36.

TRENDS: This is an excellent game so far, with N.C. State ahead 32-31. Here are some early trends:

* N.C. State's shooting: The Wolfpack is getting off some great shots. Warren looks fast and fluid on the court and is giving Rodney Hood problems. Hood was pushing on Warren a bit and the officials saw it and called it, frustrating Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Warren has 11 points already and is clearly in the flow of the game.

State is shooting 13 of 18, a marvelous 72 percent against a Duke team that prides itself on defense.

* Point guard play: N.C. State is getting strong play from both point guards. Tyler Lewis got off to a good start and Cat Barber just came in and nailed two beautiful jump shots. On both cases, he was able to shake the Duke defender and get free easily.

* Jabari Parker: Parker has hit some brilliant shots. No surprise here, but no Wolfpacker can really shut him down.

DEPTH FACTOR: Duke is going to its bench early, an interesting move against a Wolfpack team playing its third game in three days.

But N.C. State looks fresh, even though it had a tough game in the quarterfinals against Syracuse.

Duke, of course, had no easy route Friday, surviving in the last seconds.

Lennard Freeman just scored and was fouled for N.C. State, hitting the free throw for a  22-20 lead.

INTENSE GAME: Duke is only 2 for 8 from three-point range so far, and just missed two open looks from deep on one possession. It's 15-13 Blue Devils right now, and you don't have to watch Duke long to know they are a good, but certainly not great, team when their three-pointers aren't falling.

Warren has six points for State and Tyler Lewis, who played well most of the time against Syracuse, has three assists.

BIG SHOT: Rodney Hood just hit a great three-pointer for Duke, got fouled by T.J. Warren and hit the free throw. That gave Duke a 13-6 lead. but Warren came right back with a basket, foul and free throw.

So now it's 13-9 Duke.

And did we hear announcer Mike Gminski correctly? Did he say he thought Clemson's Rod Hall was cleanly stripped at the end of the Duke game?

Gminski obviously knows basketball, but doesn't the replay clearly show otherwise?

DUKE LEADS EARLY: Duke is off to a 7-4 start in this one, but neither team - surprise! - is shooting well. What is it with the rims at the Greensboro Coliseum anyway?

Duke missed its first three three-pointers before Rasheed Sulaimon nailed a three for a 7-4 lead.

T.J. Warren is 1-3 for two points for N.C. State.

Jabari Parker is 1-3 with two points for Duke, and he is being guarded by Kyle Washington.

DUKE, STATE TO BATTLE: Today's game between N.C. State and Duke is highly anticipated, and Wolfpack great David Thompson is in the stands to watch the Wolfpack.

GREAT TOURNAMENT SO FAR: Virginia's victory by three points Saturday continued what has been an amazing tournament. In 12 games so far, eight have been decided by five points or fewer.

The biggest blowout was Pitt's 29-point defeat of Wake Forest, and the only other double-digit wins were Wake Forest over Notre dame (by 12) and Virginia over Florida State (by 13).  

TOURNAMENT FUTURE: ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a television interview that no future sites have been set yet, a clear reference to a Sports Illustrated report that the ACC will go to Brooklyn in 2017.

"We have not made a determination, so we'll see," Swofford said. Swofford said announcements about future tournaments will be "more instrumental" than in the past, but he did acknowledge New York is a possibility

Saying the ACC wants to go to New York is sort of like saying children yearn for gifts on Christmas, but the exact details have not been announced.

VIRGINIA WINS: Virginia has advanced to the ACC championship game with a 51-48 win over Pittsburgh. Virginia's Anthony Gill, a shaky free throw shooter, made two foul shots with 8.5 seconds that sealed it for the Cavaliers, and Virginia blocked a three-point attempt by Pitt in the final seconds.

Winner plays the survivor of the second game between Duke and N.C. State.

HERE WE GO: Virginia milks the clock but loses the ball at the end of the possession. Pitt's James Robinson drove down the lane, tossed in a basket and appeared to get bumped, but no call. Pitt's Jamie Dixon was livid and let the officials know it.

Virginia leads 49-48 with 10 seconds left, and the Cavaliers have  the ball.

STRETCH RUN: Intense final minutes. Malcolm Brogdon drove and scored for Virginia with 59.4 showing and Pitt responded when Lamar Patterson scored on a cut down the lane.

Virginia leads 49-46 with 50 seconds showing.

UVA STRUGGLING: Virginia hasn't scored in more than five minutes, and star forward Joe Harris just missed an open jumper. Pitt is scrapping back into the game and now trails UVa just 45-42 with 3:54 to play.

CAVALIERS AHEAD: It's Virginia ahead, 45-38, with 6:56 left in the second half. The Cavaliers are playing with a lot of confidence, and you have to wonder if playing twice in a row is taking a toll on Pittsburgh. The Cavaliers just look fresher, and have more energy, in this stretch.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is roaring on the sidelines, exhorting his team on and showing his unhappiness with some officiating. 

It's 45-40 now with 4:54 showing.

UVA RUN: Virginia just bolted to command in this game with a 10-2 run they finished with a brilliant drive by Joe Harris.

That run forced Pitt to call time with 10:43 to go. Virginia launched it when Malcolm Brogdon scored on a drive, added free throws by London Perrantes and added the score by Harris.

That puts Virginia in charge with a 43-36 lead, UVa's largest lead of the game.

Virginia has been terrific on defense, with three Cavaliers rotating over to block a Pitt drive.

CAVALIERS AHEAD: Virginia has pushed ahead 37-34 in the second half, in part because the Cavaliers are getting a feel for Pitt's defense. UVa is passing well inside and sometimes getting easy baskets because of it.

Also, Joe Harris has found the range after a tough first half. Harris' three-pointer from the left wing gave the Cavaliers a 33-29 advantage.

Right now it's 39-36 Virginia with 11:56 left in the first half.

AT THE HALF: Virginia leads Pitt 26-24 at the half, and this game has been no cakewalk for the regular-season champions.

The Cavaliers' Joe Harris is only 2 of 7 for five points, and he's had some open chances he hasn't made. Malcolm Brogdon leads the Cavaliers at the half with six points.

Pitt center Talib Zanna has been a monster so far. Zanna, who tortured UNC on Friday, has 12 points and five boards and has made 4 of 5 shots. 

HE'S INTENSE: It's no secret that college basketball coaches are intense, of course, but Pitt's Jamie Dixon seems particularly intimidating on the sidelines. Virginia's Tony Bennett is intense but understated, although seems to take every basket scored against the Cavaliers as a personal affront.

Dixon, though, is tall, lean, wears slicked-back hair and exudes fierce aura. His teams reflect that, too, playing with fire and purpose, especially on defense. It's impressive to watch Pitt rush back on defense and also rotate in their halfcourt defense.

Right now, the game is tied at 21 with 3:31 left in the first half.

Center Talib Zanna continues to star for Pitt with 12 points and five rebounds.

BACK AND FORTH: Wow, this game is going back and forth! There have been four ties and eight lead changes already, and it's 17-16 Pitt right now with 6:36 left in the first half. 

Virginia has five turnovers in the game already. 

Meanwhile, Pitt's Talib Zanna is continuing his monster tournament after his exceptional effort against UNC. Zanna has 10 points and four boards already and, at this point, is playing like the best player in the tournament.

CLOSE GAME EARLY: Pitt and Virginia are tied at 6 in a game that's exactly what you'd expect between these two teams.

No one has been shooting well in Greensboro this weekend - what's up with the rims there anyway? - and Virginia and Pitt are two of the league's best defensive teams.

Pitt just scored, and Anthony Gill came back with two free throws for Virginia, so it's tied at 8 now. But there are 13  minutes left to play in the first half, so this has hardly been an offensive outburst.

FIRST SEMIFINAL: Virginia is looking to make its first ACC Tournament final appearance since 1994 when it faces Pitt today in the ACC semifinals at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The Cavaliers beat Pitt 48-45 the last time they met, in Pittsburgh on Feb. 2. Malcolm Brogdon hit a three-pointer with .4 seconds to play to lift the Cavaliers to a dramatic win that time.

It's a game that matches  two teams with similar styles. Both are half-court oriented teams that rely on gritty defense and a patient offense.

Pitt has been impressive in ACC play so far. The Panthers hammered North Carolina for most of the quarterfinals before UNC coach Roy Williams switched to a full-court press. Pitt held on 80-75 thanks to 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds from center Talib Zanna.

Virginia had an easier time on Friday, beating Florida State 64-51 as Joe Harris matched a season high with 20 points.

 

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