#7 Duke and #24 Florida State engaged in pitched battle for 40 minutes, the lead changing hands over and over again, until finally Duke grabbed a lead late and sent the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy by downing the Seminoles, 84-81, setting up a showdown at North Carolina on Sunday afternoon with the ACC title on the line.
Gerald Henderson led the Blue Devils in scoring for the 4th straight game, with 21 points. Game high honors went to Florida State's Toney Douglas, who had 27, including 5 three-pointers.
11-3 North Carolina plays at Virginia Tech Wednesday night prior to the big event. Duke improved to 11-4 in the conference and 25-5 overall.
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Elsewhere around the college hoops universe, #18 Clemson powered past Virginia, 75-57, bolstering their credentials for an NCAA bid at 10-6 in the ACC and 24-6 overall.
#14 Gonzaga cruised past South Carolina Upstate, 90-40, getting scoring from 9 different players.
Having just been restored to the Top 25 on Monday, #25 Syracuse survived one of the worst halves of their season in the opening 20 minutes at home against Rutgers, hitting just 7 of 23 (30%) from the field and 1-8 from three-point range. Still, they trailed by just a point at the break, 20-19, as the Scarlet Knights shot just 26%.
The second half was another story, as the Orange hit 10 or their first 11 shots and went on a 14-0 run to open a 15-point lead at 43-28. From there it was all Orange in their last game of the season at the Carrier Dome, running away late for a convincing, 70-40 win.
Syracuse had lost 6 straight when trailing at the half but reversed that trend with their third straight Big East. They close out their season Saturday at #13 Marquette.
Oklahoma State moved into 5th place in the Big 12 standings, getting past Kansas State, 77-71, for their sixth straight win. The Cowboys are 9-6 in the conference and 20-9 overall. The NCAA selection committee always favors teams playing well down the stretch and Oklahoma State has been doing just that. They close out their regular season at #4 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Ohio State continued to cling to slim hopes of making the big dance, with a 60-58 win at Iowa. The Buckeyes are 19-9 and 9-8 in the Big Ten and close out their season hosting Northwestern on Sunday.
Late night in the ACC, #10 Wake Forest put the final nail in Maryland's post-season coffin and maybe ended the coaching reign of the Terrapins' Gary Williams with a 65-63 win at Maryland. The Terps have missed the NCAA tourney four of the past five years and with a record of 18-11 and 7-8 in the conference, Maryland faces a must-win situation Saturday at Virginia in their regular season finale.
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