#ACCTourney: Devil Of A Semifinal

#ACCTourney: Devil Of A Semifinal

Saturday March 15, 2014

Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com

Blue Devils pull away from NC State in the second half to play for their 20th ACC title.

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Greensboro, N.C. (AP) -- Jabari Parker scored 20 points and No. 7 Duke beat North Carolina State 75-67 on Saturday in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal.

Rasheed Sulaimon added 16 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (26-7) while Rodney Hood had 14 points and keyed the defensive effort against ACC player of the year T.J. Warren.

Duke earned its 31st championship game appearance and first since 2011.

The Blue Devils will play No. 6 Virginia on Sunday. Duke’s 69-65 win in January stood as the Cavaliers’ lone conference loss until Maryland beat them last week.

Warren scored 21 points but was just 4 of 13 after halftime while facing a barrage of double teams.

The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-13), playing their third game in three days, shot just 36 percent in the second half -- after hitting 67 percent in the opening half -- and were denied their first title game berth since 2007.

Lennard Freeman had 13 points and Anthony “Cat” Barber finished with 12 for N.C. State, which for much of the day looked capable of pulling off a second straight resume-enhancing upset after knocking off No. 11 Syracuse in the quarterfinals.

The Wolfpack might have gotten it, had it not been for Duke’s 20-7 run in the second half that was fueled by three N.C. State turnovers and a spate of missed shots.

Parker scored six points during the burst that pushed the Blue Devils’ lead into double figures for the first time.

A botched lob to N.C. State big man Jordan Vandenberg led to an open court the other way for Parker, and his authoritative dunk over a sidestepping Barber made it 49-45 with 15 minutes left. Quinn Cook ended the run with a 3 that made it 61-49 with about 9½ minutes remaining.

N.C. State never could string together a game-threatening run after that, and the Wolfpack’s best chance down the stretch came when they closed to 67-59 on Freeman’s jumper with about 3 minutes left.

Hood missed the front end of a one-and-one but the rebound went to Parker -- who finished with a momentum-shifting dunk to put Duke back up by 10.

Cook had 14 points for the Blue Devils, who gave N.C. State its most lopsided loss of the season in the teams’ only previous meeting -- a 95-60 thumping at Cameron Indoor Stadium in which Duke seemed content to let Warren score and clamp down on everyone else.

At least early in this one, though, the Blue Devils once again couldn’t stop anyone.

Duke -- which got only one defensive stop in the final 5 minutes of a one-point quarterfinal victory over Clemson about 15 hours earlier -- was just as porous against the Wolfpack.

NC State hit 13 of 15 shots over an 11-minute stretch and scored on 15 of 16 possessions, with the only empty trip in that span coming when Warren missed the front end of a one-and-one.