Duke rides 3s to title

ACC win suggests key to NCAA run

Staff WriterMarch 16, 2009 

— After watching Duke bury five straight 3-pointers in Sunday's first half, Florida State point guard Toney Douglas said he knew the Blue Devils' hot streak would eventually end.

Problem is, it never really did.

Third-seeded Duke's 12 3-pointers during its 79-69 victory at the Georgia Dome not only tied for the second most in ACC Tournament championship game history but set the blueprint for how well the Blue Devils likely need to shoot from behind the arc in order to go on a run during the NCAA Tournament.

"We didn't really want to force 3s, because when we take good 3 shots -- drives and kicks and we're open -- we usually make a lot of those," said forward Kyle Singler, who was 4-for-10 from behind the arc. "So taking good shots is very important. And whether we take 30 3s in a game, if they're all good shots, we're going to take all 30 of them."

With no true penetrating point guard or dominating big man in its rotation, making shots from behind the arc was critical for the Blue Devils against fourth-seeded FSU, considering the Seminoles start three players 6 feet 9 or taller with the ability to swat anything that enters the lane.

FSU was leading 11-9 with 13:31 left in the first half when the Devils pulled away with a long-range flourish, burying six of their next seven made shots from 3-point range. Three in a row came from Singler, who finished with 14 points.

"I kind of just fed off the team," he said. "We were shooting the ball well. We were trying to get in a regular momentum."

They had it. By halftime, when the Blue Devils led 35-21, they had made seven of their 14 3-point attempts and were so hot, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton noted, that "they shot better from the 3 than they were from the 2."

The Devils cooled for a short span in the second half, allowing a 14-3 FSU run that cut their cushion to 42-36. But Jon Scheyer countered with -- what else? -- a 3 to thwart the comeback.

FSU never really threatened again, and the Devils, in all, made 12 of 25 3-point attempts, tying the number of makes by Georgia Tech when it lost to Wake Forest in 1996. The title-game record of 15 was set by Wake Forest when it beat North Carolina in overtime in 1995.

"My shots were only a few -- Jon [Scheyer] had some, G [Gerald Henderson] had some. Everyone was shooting the ball well," Singler said. "And it was a big confidence booster, just to see the ball go in the basket."

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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