GREENSBORO, N.C. — The momentum was on the opposing sideline after a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn. Duke's frustrated Hall of Fame coach had already been whistled for a technical foul. And the fourth-ranked Blue Devils were flirting with joining the long list of upset victims at the ACC tournament.
It's a good thing Kyle Singler is playing his best basketball of the season.
Singler had 27 points to help the Blue Devils push ahead in the second half to beat Miami 77-74 in Saturday's semifinals, sending them to the championship game for the 11th time in 13 years.
Jon Scheyer added 16 points, eight in the go-ahead 15-0 run early in the second half that restored some sort of order in this upset-filled week in Greensboro. The top-seeded Blue Devils (28-5) trailed by three at halftime against the league's last-place team before rallying to reach today's final, where they will defend their title against Georgia Tech.
"We have been there, but if anything that just helps us knowing how tough it is," Scheyer said. "We're fortunate to get through these tough games, and we know whoever we play, it's going to be a battle and we need to be ready."
Duke, the only one of the top six seeds to reach the semifinals, has won eight of the past 11 tournaments and is chasing a league-record 18th title. Though the Blue Devils have avoided an upset loss, they were tied at halftime with ninth-seeded Virginia in Friday's quarterfinals then found themselves trailing 35-32 against the 12th-seeded Hurricanes (20-13).
"We really haven't had a good first half in this tournament," Singler said. "It is frustrating. But I think the sign of a good team is to bounce back in the second half and find a way to win."
GA. TECH 57, N.C. STATE 54: Overcoming another near second-half meltdown, the Yellow Jackets ended the Wolfpack's surprise run.
Freshman Derrick Favors had 17 points and eight rebounds, Gani Lawal added 12 points and 10 rebounds and touted guard Iman Shumpert made a key defensive play late for seventh-seeded Georgia tech (22-11).
Despite his team coughing up a 10-point halftime lead and looking rattled against the press in the second half, coach Paul Hewitt was smiling after being a target of criticism for what some argue is serial underachieving.
Georgia Tech entered the tournament with five losses in seven games.
"The fans have been great, that's the one thing that has been consistent. There are other areas where some cheap shots have been taken," Hewitt said. "When I walk through the airports and go out to dinner with my family, you would be really shocked at how this stuff has turned. Now everybody goes out of their way to say, 'Hey coach, we respect what you're doing.' "