ATLANTA — Florida State made a statement by building a double-digit second-half lead on Duke.
Then the Seminoles made another one when they lost it.
Coach Leonard Hamilton said his team learned something when the Blue Devils mounted their inevitable charge to erase the deficit.
“I thought we grew up a little bit in that stretch when the game was in doubt,” Hamilton said.
Florida State advanced to only the second Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game in the program’s history by beating Duke 62-59 on Saturday.
Michael Snaer scored 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:27 left that gave the Seminoles the lead for good.
The 17th-ranked Seminoles will face North Carolina, the tournament’s top seed, today as they try to win their first championship.
Hamilton said he was impressed his team didn’t lose its composure when the Blue Devils, the long-time power of the ACC Tournament, made their run.
Florida State (23-9) recovered after blowing the 10-point lead and then had to survive some last-minute scares – including missed 3-point attempts by Duke’s Austin Rivers and Seth Curry in the final six seconds.
A three-point play by Rivers gave Duke its last lead at 57-55. Snaer answered with his only 3-pointer of the game just 12 seconds later.
The second-seeded Seminoles ended a run of three consecutive ACC Tournament championships for Duke (27-6), which had won 10 of the past 13 titles.
“This tournament means a lot to us,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It hurts to lose. But we lost right. You can lose wrong; we lost right.”
Rivers led the Blue Devils with 19 points. Curry had 13.
NO. 4 NORTH CAROLINA 69, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 67
Kendall Marshall banked in a shot with 10.2 seconds remaining and North Carolina edged North Carolina State in a rugged game with a disputed finish, advancing to the championship.
C.J. Leslie, who led the Wolfpack with 22 points, fouled out with more than eight minutes remaining. North Carolina (29-4) lost its top scorer when Tyler Zeller picked up his fifth late in the game after scoring 23 points.
But it was a couple of non-calls that sent N.C. State into a tizzy.
Alex Johnson went flying on Marshall’s drive, but there was no whistle from the officials. The Wolfpack (22-12) got one more crack with 1.2 seconds left, and Richard Howell thought he was fouled trying to get off a shot after getting his hand on a long pass.
A frustrated Howell had to be pulled away by a couple of teammates to keep him from going after an official.
“Right now, we feel very fortunate to say the least,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “If you want to put lucky in there, you can say that as well.”
Harrison Barnes added 16 points for North Carolina and Marshall had 12 points and 10 assists.
The Tar Heels were without ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson, who sprained his left wrist early in a quarterfinal victory.