WASHINGTON (AP) — New location, familiar ending.
The Atlantic Coast Conference brought its annual tournament to the nation’s capital for the first time, and this version had all the excitement of the 51 that preceded it. And when all 400 minutes of basketball were completed, there was Duke, cutting down the nets to celebrate another championship.
Tournament MVP J.J. Redick scored 26 points, Sheldon Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and the Blue Devils held off a late charge to squeeze past Georgia Tech 69-64 yesterday.
“I’m so proud of my team — not just for this game but for the whole season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They’ve found ways to win.”
Third-seeded Duke won despite making only one field goal over the final 11 minutes — a tip-in by Williams just before the final buzzer.
“The key was we played really good defense,” Krzyzewski said, referring to Georgia Tech’s 30 percent shooting from the field.
The Blue Devils (25-5) have won 15 ACC tournaments, tying archrival North Carolina for most in league history. But while the Tar Heels haven’t added to their ledger since 1998, the Blue Devils have won six of seven — the lone exception being last year, when they fell in overtime to Maryland in the title game.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve won a few. I’m happy that I was on the train that Daniel (Ewing), Shelden and J.J. conducted. It’s been a heck of a ride this year.”
Duke, which never trailed, went 15-for-20 at the free throw line over the final nine minutes to fend off the pesky Yellow Jackets (19-11).
Georgia Tech used an 8-0 run to close to 56-51 with 4:56 left. A 3-pointer by Anthony Morrow cut the margin to three with 1:54 left, and two free throws by teammate Will Bynum made it 64-62 with 1:27 to go.
After a miss by Redick, Bynum missed a jumper in the lane and Lee Melchionni made one of two foul shots for a three-point lead. Jeremis Smith then misfired for the Yellow Jackets, but Tech got the ball back with 34 seconds remaining.
A basket by Morrow got Tech within one, but Redick was fouled on the inbounds and made two free throws to make it 67-64. After Bynum was off target on a 3-pointer, Duke’s David McClure missed two foul shots, but Williams tipped in the second one to preserve the win.
“No one predicted we’d be sitting here today,” said Redick, who went 10-for-10 at the line.
Jarrett Jack scored 19 points for the Yellow Jackets, who fell short in their bid to win the ACC championship for the first time since 1993 but erased any doubt as to their worthiness in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think we can take pride in this,” Jack said. “We showed we won’t back down from anyone, no matter who it is.”
Bynum, who scored a career-high 35 in Georgia Tech’s semifinal win over top-seeded North Carolina, was limited to 14 points on 4-for-17 shooting.
“I’m proud of our effort to battle back into the game,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “At the end of the game, we got looks, but we just didn’t make them.”
The Blue Devils have won 19 of 20 against the Yellow Jackets, including three this season.