Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Duke holds off Georgia Tech
to win ACC Championship
Alex Kreitman / Times-News
Duke's Jon Scheyer hits the game-winning 3-pointer against Georgia Tech.

Jerome Richard / Times-News

GREENSBORO – As Jon Scheyer prepared for a post game interview, he smiled at the interviewer, shook his head and let out a sigh of relief.

The sigh was partly because Duke had fought off pesky Georgia Tech, 65-61, to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and partly because his clutch shot in the waning seconds not only propelled the Blue Devils to victory, but also put some shaky tournament shooting in the rear view mirror.

The title was Duke’s ninth in the last 12 years as they defended their championship from a year ago. It was the Blue Devils 18th tournament title, moving them one ahead of North Carolina.

The loss capped a sterling tournament by seventh-seeded Georgia Tech, which was trying to become the lowest seed ever to win the tournament.

“That was one of the best games we’ve played this year and in the last couple of years,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Georgia Tech played really well. They didn’t lose the game, we won the game.”

Duke was able to deny the Yellow Jackets because it got contributions from a number of players, but it was Scheyer’s 3-pointer with 18 seconds to play that sealed the championship for the top-seeded Blue Devils.

Duke (29-5) seemed in control leading 56-45 at the 4:22 mark. Georgia Tech came roaring back, pulling within 60-59 on Derrick Favors’ dunk with 47.9 remaining.

Scheyer, rolling off a screen on a play called “Action”, buried a jumper from the right side for a 63-59 advantage. The Yellow Jackets anticipated the play and had it defended as they wanted, only to watch Scheyer bury the dagger.

“We wanted him to come out on that side of the floor. We didn’t want him to come out on the left side; we wanted him to catch it on his right foot and turn so the defenders were right there on his shooting hand,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “Everything we wanted to do on that shot, we did. The only other thing we could have done was pray. It was a big time shot.”

Scheyer struggled with his shot in two previous tournament victories, but felt confident on the one that gave his team separation from the Yellow Jackets (22-12).

“Kyle (Singler) and I crossed underneath and I was able to get some distance for about a second and Brian (Zoubek) set a really good screen,” said Scheyer, who finished with 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting. “I was open and even though I hadn’t been shooting well, my teammates and coaches told me to keep shooting. I had confidence in my shot. It felt good when it left.

“It’s not about how I shoot. It’s about winning a championship for me.”  

Scheyer’s shot took center stage and overshadowed the contributions of teammates Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins and Brian Zoubek.

Singler was named tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring a team-high 20 points and sinking a tournament record 14 free throws. He was 14 of 16 at the line to break Scheyer’s mark of 13 made free throws.

Singler sank 13 consecutive charity shots in the second half and his two with nine seconds to play offset a driving lay up by Iman Shumpert that pulled Georgia Tech within 63-61 with 12 seconds left.

Duke was 24 of 28 from the free throw line, a statistic not lost on Singler.

“That was big for us,” Singler said. “We weren’t making shots at the end of the game, so free throws were big for us.”

The contest was a battle of Duke’s perimeter game against the inside power of Georgia Tech’s Favors ( 22 points, 11 rebounds) and Gani Lawal (six points, five rebounds).

For the most part, Duke limited the Yellow Jackets inside game as Zoubek played one of his better games with nine rebounds and was a presence in the middle at 7-foot-1.

“The game plan was to make them score over me and not give them any angles,” Zoubek said. “I frustrated them at times and made them a little less comfortable and less aggressive”

Smith and Dawkins helped Duke to an early lead and finished with 16 and seven points respectively.

“We looked to Nolan early and Andre gave us huge lift. And we aren’t who we are without Brian playing like he’s playing,” Krzyzewski said. “Kyle’s free throws, Jon hit the biggest shot obviously. He’s got a great heart. He’s never afraid. It was a little bit of a storybook ending to the ACC Tournament.”