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March 11, 2005

WASHINGTON – Fifth-ranked Duke assumed its customary spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals, breezing past Virginia 76-64 Friday night despite a horrid shooting performance by standout guard J.J. Redick.

Redick, who came in averaging a team-high 22.6 points, missed 11 of his first 12 shots and finished 4-for-17, including 3-for-12 from 3-point range. But Daniel Ewing and Lee Melchionni picked up the slack by scoring 16 points apiece, and Shelden Williams had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Redick scored 15 points, a number padded by four free throws in the final 2 minutes.

Playing in the tournament semifinals for an eighth straight season, third-seeded Duke (23-5) will face North Carolina State on Saturday afternoon. The Wolfpack, who lost to the Blue Devils by 12 points in January, advanced by upsetting third-ranked Wake Forest 81-65.

Duke hasn’t lost an ACC tournament opener since 1997 and is seeking its sixth title in seven years.

Sean Singletary scored 16 and Devin Smith had 13 for Virginia (14-15), which may have played its final game under coach Pete Gillen. Despite their surprising victory over Miami in the opening round, the Cavaliers finished in last place in the ACC and staggered to their first losing season since 1998-99, Gillen’s first year at the school.

Even though Redick had a miserable first half and the Blue Devils were a collective 9-for-33 (27 percent) with 15 minutes elapsed, Virginia failed to take advantage. A 3-pointer by Ewing erased a 23-21 deficit and put Duke ahead for good.

The Blue Devils led by two before Melchionni sank two 3-pointers in a 10-0 run that made it 40-28 at halftime.

Virginia, however, wouldn’t go away. J.R. Reynolds scored six points in a 13-3 spree at the outset of the second half that got the Cavaliers to 43-41. Virginia then had two chances to tie or take the lead, but misfired on both occasions.

Redick followed with a 3-pointer, only his second basket of the game, and Williams added a layup to make it 50-43.

The Cavaliers closed to 60-55 before Redick connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner and Ewing made a layup for a 60-50 lead with 9:01 left.

Duke never let the margin shrink below eight points in defeating Virginia for an eighth straight time.

Virginia missed seven of its first eight shots to open the game, but Duke was even worse. The Blue Devils went 2-for-14 from the floor, 0-for-2 at the line and committed two turnovers in falling behind 12-5.

After Duke got 3-pointers from DeMarcus Nelson and Melchionni in an 8-1 spurt that tied it, the Cavaliers ran off seven straight points before Redick pulled out of an 0-for-4 start with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

It turned out to be his only points during the opening 20 minutes.

AP Sports Writer

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