Devils Win ACC Championship

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Kyle Singler scored 20 points and Jon Scheyer hit a critical 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to help No. 4 Duke beat Georgia Tech 65-61 in Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game.

Scheyer finished with 16 points for the top-seeded Blue Devils (29-5), who let an 11-point lead with 6 minutes left slip all the way to one before Scheyer's big shot. Nolan Smith also had 16 points to help Duke earn a league-record 18th tournament title, breaking a tie with rival North Carolina.

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 has won nine of the past 12 ACC tournaments and was in prime position to grab a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Freshman Derrick Favors had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Yellow Jackets, who were trying to become the lowest-seeded team to win the tournament. Georgia Tech fell behind 8-0 and trailed 52-41 after Scheyer's 3-pointer with 6:19 to play. But the Yellow Jackets ran off nine straight points to get within 60-59 on Favors' dunk with 47.9 seconds left.

But Scheyer - who was just 1 of 8 from behind the arc to that point - lost Glen Rice Jr. around a screen and swished a 3 from the right side to push the lead back to four points. Then, after a driving basket from Iman Shumpert, Singler knocked down two free throws with 9 seconds left to make it a two-possession game and essentially seal the victory.

It was fitting that Duke punctuated the game at the free throw line. 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 catch-up mode almost all game.

Singler was named MVP despite shooting 3 of 15 from the field, though he did make 14 of 16 free throws - the 14 were a championship-game record - and finished with six rebounds. He had a nasty red scratch about 4 inches long on the back of his right shoulder, the result of diving over a courtside table for a loose ball, almost landing on Dick Vitale and ending up on the floor between press-row tables late in the first half.

When the horn sounded, Singler leapt into the arms of Smith for a hug near the sideline, than ran to hug senior Brian Zoubek as the Blue Devils began their oncourt celebration.

In many ways, it had to be a relief considering everything that had gone on in Greensboro this week.

The Blue Devils were the only one of the top six seeds to make it to the semifinals in a tournament that had seen a bevy of ugly, low-scoring games in a Greensboro Coliseum that had numerous rows of empty green seats in the upper level from tipoff of Thursday's games.

By Sunday's final, Duke fans had gobbled up plenty of tickets from fans whose schools had lost, putting plenty of royal blue in the seats and creating a homecourt advantage for a team playing about an hour's drive west of its Durham campus to make Georgia Tech's job even tougher.

The Yellow Jackets hadn't won the tournament in 17 years, when they capped a similar run as a No. 6 seed under Bobby Cremins by upending top-seeded and eventual national champion North Carolina in the final. They had reached the finals only twice since, the last time a loss to the Blue Devils five years ago.

Cremins, now the coach at College of Charleston, sat behind the Georgia Tech bench for this one. But the Yellow Jackets couldn't match their '93 run, falling behind early and failing to get closer than four points until that frantic final minute.

At least Georgia Tech probably took care of its shaky NCAA tournament prospects. It entered Greensboro on the bubble after losing five of seven to close the regular season.

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  • by @state fan on Mar 15, 2010 at 05:14 PM
    wolfpack season is not over; they're going to the NIT
  • by Darren Location: Kill Devil Hills on Mar 15, 2010 at 12:57 PM
    It is awful to know that my beloved pirates don't ever get into the NCAA tournament, (should have never fired Joe Dooley). As far as the tournament, I filled out the brackets, and the 2010 National Champions..........Kansas Jayhawks 67-62 over Syracuse. Would like to see the Buckeyes go all the way but I doubt they will. Would be nice to see Richmond go on a run as well, respectable basketball program!
  • by JB Location: Washington on Mar 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM
    Way to go Duke! Carolina fans: "maybe next year" is getting old and worn out. DUKE RULES! Yea boie!
  • by disappointed state fan on Mar 15, 2010 at 09:28 AM
    Good for Duke and Wake Forest being in the tourny. I'm a lifelong State fan, but looking at their performance this year, I'm just glad State's season is finally over. If we would've gotten blown out in the first round, Sidney Lowe would have to be on the hot set if he's not already. That could've of been the best thing to happen for us. Lowe has to go!
  • by Dave Location: Wilson on Mar 15, 2010 at 08:07 AM
    It is incredible how insignificant the ACC and the tournament was this year and for the last few years. There were tons of empty seats for the championship game. You could easily walk up and get tickets. Plus nobody at work was even talking about the tournament. In years past it was topic #1 and everyone put up car flags and wore their school colors. Not one word this year. I bet the TV ratings were near a all time low.
  • by Jimbo Location: NC on Mar 15, 2010 at 07:32 AM
    Lol. Dave why are you even here if you hate NC so much? Is it because or your job? No job can be worth the misery of being forced to live with all of us! Get a new job. Move to a place where you can be happy if such a place exists.
  • by Jethro Bodine Location: New Bern on Mar 14, 2010 at 07:59 PM
    I'm an old UNC fan (Dean Smith era) and I congratulate Duke for their exciting win at the ACC Tourney. However, I must interject that the ACC teams as a whole were at best average, if not below average. Duke will NOT make it through this year. Final Four? (maybe) Kansas & Kentucky will wipe the floor with the ACC teams. (sorry)
  • by Wolfpack Red on Mar 14, 2010 at 07:32 PM
    Good luck Duke and Wake Forest. I am now dedicated to Duke and Wake Forest to represent the great state of North Carolina. Come on guys, be a good sport.
  • by Rich Location: Greenville on Mar 14, 2010 at 06:15 PM
    John Shire has got ice water flowing through his veins. If you didn't see his three at the end of the game to lock it up for Duke you missed out on a good one. Dave, please go back to wherever it is you come from and be miserable there. We don't need, or want you here.
  • by Dave Location: An architectual structure on Mar 14, 2010 at 05:17 PM
    Why do you North Carolinian's always argue about whose sports teams are better? The way I see it, Duke, NCST, NC, ECU, and all of the other schools are quite bad. You should all unite and be happy because you all are from NC. You all eat Bojangles, drink tea, eat pig, and have really bad accents. Why can't you just get along?
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