Duke defeated 12th-ranked Florida State 73-63 Saturday night to capture the 2019 ACC Tournament championship. The Blue Devils broke open a close game midway through the second half and fought off several spirited FSU comebacks to run their record to 29-5 and stake a strong claim for the top overall seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Duke placed four players in double figures, led by Zion Williamson’s game-high 21 points, the capstone of weekend that should become legendary in ACC annals.
Williamson dominated early, staking Duke to early leads of 6-2 and 11-8. But some poor shot selection and clanked three-pointers kept Duke from extending its leads.
FSU took its first lead at 14-13 on a Devin Vassell three-pointer and extended it with bombs by Mfiondu Kabengele and Vassell again.
Duke was forced to call timeout, down 27-19.
The Blue Devils responded by dialing up the defensive pressure and forcing some turnovers.
This time it was Florida State that was forced to call a timeout after a 7-0 Duke run.
The teams traded baskets down the first-half stretch and entered the locker room tied at 36.
Williamson (12) and Barrett (11) provided most of Duke’s opening-half offense. Cameron Reddish added six early points but went scoreless over the final 8:52.
FSU hit four-of-11 from beyond the arc, Duke one-for-nine. Tre Jones had the Duke hit. The Seminoles also converted all eight of their first-half foul shots.
Barrett said that at the half Duke “decided to come out and really punch them first. Once we got that, we were able to sustain that the rest of the game.”
Terrance Mann hit a three-pointer for the Seminoles right off the bat to start the second half but Duke responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by Javin DeLaurier, who had a block, two rebounds and two foul shots in a span of 1:18.
Krzyzewski said DeLaurier “had his best game tonight, especially against their big guys. He rebounded well, he talked on defense, he finished.”
DeLaurier ended with six points, seven rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block.
The run put Duke up 46-39 and led to an FSU timeout, with 16:26 remaining.
A three-point play by RaiQuan Gray cut Duke’s lead to 50-44 before another run of pressure defense led to another Blue Devil surge, an 8-0 run.
Leonard Hamilton said during this span Duke “imposed its will on us. They were more determined. We did not have the same level of intensity as they did.”
“We were able to get stops,” Tre Jones said, “and we knew that if we could get stops and get into transition, we could wear them out.”
Kabengele knocked down a pair of corner bombs as FSU crawled back to 59-50, with nine minutes left, 63-58 with 4:43 remaining.
Florida State goes about as deep into its bench as any team in the country. Duke barely subbed in the second half and got a total of zero points from its bench.
But Duke was the fresher, sharper team down the stretch. Florida State went almost four minutes without a point and by that time Duke had a double-digit lead and it was all over.
“A physical, really hard-fought defensive game,” Krzyzewski called the win and that’s always the case with an FSU team that asks no quarter and gives none.
Williamson’s final stat-line for the tournament was jaw-dropping. The tournament MVP ended with 81 points in three games. That breaks the ACC Tournament freshman scoring record of 75 points set by Phil Ford in 1975 and the Duke ACC Tournament scoring record of 80 set by Art Heyman in 1961. He converted 33-of-43 from the field and made 10-of-13 from the foul line over the final two games after a poor foul-shooting effort against Syracuse.
He summed it up.
“When you’re a little kid, watching Duke on TV cutting down the nets, and you want to be a part of it, you see it as a little kid but then you grow up and be a part of it, that’s why you come to Duke.”
Barrett added 17 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Both made the All-Tournament first team.
Surprisingly, Tre Jones did not, despite a monster three days. Jones gave Duke a big scoring lift, finding seams in FSU’s defense. Jones scored 13 of his 18 points after intermission.
Jones said that teams giving extra attention to Williamson and Barrett give him openings but acknowledged that he’s hunting his shot more.
Krzyzewski says its no accident.
“Early in the year Tre was happy just running the team and he still is and he did a great job of running the team,” Krzyzewski said. “But he can score and we need that and he knows it now.”
Duke only hit 2-of-14 from beyond the arc but shot 25-for-41 inside, 17-of-21 from the line and outrebounded the bigger Seminoles 39-33. But they won this on the defensive end.
Duke’s title is their 21st. Duke has played in the championship game 33 times in 66 years. Krzyzewski has won 15 of those and has a 65-23 overall in the tournament.
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