GREENSBORO, N.C. - With J.J. Redick hobbled by a knee injury, freshmen Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts stepped in to carry Duke to familiar territory - the final of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Paulus had a career-high 18 points, and McRoberts added 13 as the third-ranked Blue Devils survived a tense, emotional game to beat Wake Forest, 78-66 on Saturday.
It's only the second time this season that both of the first-year players reached double figures in points.
Redick, the ACC's iron man who averages more than 37 minutes of playing time, left for about four minutes in the first half after he fell trying to draw a charge. He went to the locker room before returning with a black knee brace, but noticeably limped his way to 20 points on 6-for-17 shooting.
Of course, he was healthy enough to drive by defender Michael Drum for a three-point play with 1:35 remaining to give Duke (29-3) a 77-63 lead. Wake Forest finally was done at that point.
Eric Williams had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (17-16), the first No. 12 seed in the 52-year history of the tournament thanks to expansion. They became the first last-place team to win two games in the event since Virginia solidified an NIT bid in 1977.
Justin Gray added 15 points and six assists for Wake Forest.
The Blue Devils have bigger hopes, including a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a return trip to the Greensboro Coliseum for the first two rounds.
NO. 11 BOSTON COLLEGE 85,
NO. 10 NORTH CAROLINA 82
Craig Smith had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Boston College shot 61 percent to beat North Carolina in the other semifinal.
Jared Dudley scored 21 points for the third-seeded Eagles (26-6), who have won 10 of 11 games to extend their late-season surge in their first ACC Tournament.
Tyler Hansbrough had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the second-seeded Tar Heels (22-7), who had won 11 of 12 coming in but failed to reach the tourney final for the fifth consecutive season.
The Eagles took the first meeting, 81-74 in Chapel Hill in January, and this veteran group essentially won another road game in an arena packed full of fans wearing Tar Heel blue.
The Eagles knocked down seemingly every open look to build a 14-point second-half lead and hold off a late spurt by the Tar Heels.
Boston College hit 33 of 54 shots, including an 8-for-16 effort from 3-point range, and took a 36-28 rebounding advantage.
But the Eagles' performance was as much a testament to their experience and unflappable poise down the stretch.
Their starting five of two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore had combined to play in 468 games with 455 starts, a significant edge against a young North Carolina team.
Smith led that effort, going 11-for-16 from the field and tallying four assists. The All-ACC senior also made several key plays to answer North Carolina runs, with freshman teammate Tyrese Rice following his lead in the final 2 minutes.
The Tar Heels managed to close the gap to 85-82 on a layup by Noel with 4.1 seconds left, then fouled Rice with 2.7 seconds left. Rice missed the free throw, but Smith grabbed the ball from Noel, kicked it back outside to kill the clock and pointed to the Eagles fans in celebration as the final horn sounded.
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