No. 5 Duke 84, Virginia 74
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)—Shelden Williams built his reputation with defense all season. It was the sophomore’s offense that helped Duke beat Virginia on Friday.
Williams had a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds to lift the No. 5 Blue Devils past Virginia 84-74 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Daniel Ewing added a season-high 26 points for the Blue Devils (26-4), who will play fourth-seeded Georgia Tech in Saturday’s semifinals.
Duke has won a record 16 straight ACC tournament games, and is seeking to become the first team to win six straight championships. The Blue Devils haven’t dropped a tourney game since an 83-68 loss to North Carolina in the 1998 final.
Ewing scored 18 points in the first half, while the 6-foot-9 Williams, who was fourth in the ACC in rebounding at 8.0 per game and first in blocks at 3.17, scored 18 in the second half for the Blue Devils.
“Daniel, I thought, carried us in the first half and Shelden did in the second half,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They had two magnificent performances.”
Freshman J.R. Reynolds scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Cavaliers (17-12), who have lost 19 of 21 to Duke dating to the 1995-96 season. Elton Brown added 14, but Todd Billet—who came in averaging 10 points per game— scored just two on 0-for-5 shooting.
The Cavaliers reached the quarterfinals by rallying for an 83-79 overtime win against Clemson in Thursday night’s first round. The Cavaliers returned to the court about 14 hours later, but played with energy the entire way.
Duke shot 50 percent and scored 26 points off 18 turnovers, but had a hard time putting away eighth-seeded Virginia. The Cavaliers shot 45 percent and went 20-for-25 from the free-throw line to stay in it.
Duke, which had not played since beating North Carolina to close the regular season last weekend, didn’t have the edge that had marked its previous tournament runs. The Blue Devils led by as many as 14 points early in the second half but needed Williams’ effort to hold on.
“Throughout the game I was putting myself in good position where I’m sealing my man off, and I knew if I kept doing that and calling for the ball, my teammates would find me,” said Williams, who went 8-for-9 from the floor. “After it started happening in the second half, I started going on the roll.”
The leading vote-getter on the league’s all-defensive team also had three blocked shots in 27 minutes, and stayed in the game despite picking up his third foul with 16:15 to play.
“Shelden played like a man today,” said senior Chris Duhon, who had six points, five assists and three steals. “He rebounded, he finished, he knocked down big free throws for us. Even though he played with foul trouble, he was smart enough not to pick up silly fouls. We need him to continue to play like that.”
Ewing continued his strong play in the tournament. The junior, who was the tournament MVP last year, went 8-for-14 from the floor and hit all four of his 3-pointers.
In last year’s quarterfinals, Ewing scored 32 points against the Cavaliers.
“He always plays well against us, and some of our guys on our (coaching) staff think he’s their best player,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said.
With Virginia trailing 60-54 with 8:20 left, Williams scored on five of Duke’s next seven possessions. He tipped in a miss by Sean Dockery to push the lead back to eight, and answered Devin Smith’s driving score with two free throws on the next possession.
He also made a layup against traffic, hit two free throws and scored on a putback of a miss by Ewing for a 73-64 lead with 4:40 left.
Virginia twice closed the gap to five points in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Duke answered with two free throws from Duhon and J.J. Redick on the ensuing possessions to maintain the lead.
The Blue Devils went 21-for-24 from the line in the second half, with Williams going 10-for-11 after halftime.