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Stubborn star lifts Duke

Jon Scheyer, taking a shot over Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors, was 1-of-8 on 3-pointers before he hit one that put Duke up 63-59.

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Jon Scheyer, taking a shot over Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors, was 1-of-8 on 3-pointers before he hit one that put Duke up 63-59.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Miss after miss, open look after open look, yet Jon Scheyer ignored them all.

He wasn't going to stop shooting, not with an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship on the line and fourth-ranked Duke clinging to a one-point lead in the final seconds. He curled around a screen, took a pass and launched a 3-pointer that dropped through the net.

"It just wasn't falling," Scheyer said, "but at the end of the games, I felt confident."

Scheyer had 16 points along with that critical 3 with 18 seconds left to help Duke hold off Georgia Tech 65-61 in Sunday's final, giving the Blue Devils a record 18th ACC championship.

Kyle Singler had 20 points and earned MVP honors for the top-seeded Blue Devils (29-5), who blew most of an 11-point lead with six minutes left. Nolan Smith also had 16 points to help Duke break a tie with North Carolina for the most ACC tournament titles and give Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski his 12th title, one shy of Dean Smith for the most in league history.

In a tournament filled with upsets, it took a gritty effort from Duke's high-scoring "Big Three" to hold off a determined comeback from the seventh-seeded Yellow Jackets (22-12), who were trying to become the first team in tournament history to win four games in four days. Duke took an 8-0 lead and led the entire game, but in the end, Scheyer's composure took over when the game hung in the balance.

"There's something about Scheyer that produces wins," Krzyzewski said. "I've loved coaching him because he has this spirit. He's never afraid, and I admire that because as a player I'm not sure I had that all the time. I'm not sure many players have it all the time, but Jon has it and it's a beautiful thing."

He missed his first six 3-pointers before sinking one to give the Blue Devils a 52-41 lead with about six minutes left. He was 1-of-8 when the Yellow Jackets ran off nine straight points to get within 60-59 on Derrick Favors' dunk with 47.9 seconds left.

But as the Blue Devils ran the clock down, Scheyer lost Glen Rice around a screen from Brian Zoubek, took a pass from Smith and launched the 3 from the right side. He held his extended right arm in the air throughout the ball's flight.

"I knew it was nothing but the bottom," fellow senior Lance Thomas said. "I didn't even go for the rebound."

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt could only tip his hat to Scheyer.

"If you're a basketball fan, enjoy it for what it is," Hewitt said. "I told him after the game, I said, 'That's a hell of a shot you just made.' If he misses that, we're winning the basketball game, because we're getting the rebound — it's going to come out long — and we're going to score."

Instead, after a driving basket from Iman Shumpert, Singler hit two free throws with nine seconds left to make it a two-possession game and seal the win.

The Blue Devils made 24 of 28 free throws, including 21 of 23 in the second half to offset a 6-of-22 (27 percent) shooting performance after the break and keep the Yellow Jackets in catchup mode almost all game.

No. 4 Duke 65

Ga. Tech 61

Stubborn star lifts Duke 03/14/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 14, 2010 8:07pm]
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