North Carolina, Seton Hall romp to titles Tar Heels rip Duke in ACC final, 96-74 ACC TOURNAMENT


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- No surprise here. The final of the 38th Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament was supposed to be a blowout. Top seed Duke, with an opening-round bye and a semifinal blowout, was supposed to roll over North Carolina yesterday.

It was a blowout at the Charlotte Coliseum, but not the one most expected to see. After a pair of regular-season losses to the Blue Devils, it was the Tar Heels' turn to take apart Duke. North Carolina led by as many as 26 points and won, 96-74.

The victory -- the most one-sided ACC final since 1968 -- gave seventh-ranked North Carolina (25-5) its second ACC tournament championship in the past three years. It was the 12th overall for the Tar Heels, 11 under Dean Smith, and one of the most shocking.

Even Smith was a little taken aback.

"I saw Duke Saturday, and I thought they were unbeatable," said Smith, whose team parlayed the victory into the No. 1 seed of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament's East Regional. "This game does strange things."

The Tar Heels, who will play Northeastern on Friday in Syracuse, N.Y., in the first round, dismantled the sixth-ranked Blue Devils from the opening possession. North Carolina built a 15-4 lead less than six minutes into the game, led by as many as 18 points late in the first half and used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to frustrate the Blue Devils.

After shooting nearly 62 percent in its 21-point victory over North Carolina State on Saturday, Duke (26-7) shot a shade over 40 percent yesterday. The Blue Devils not only blew their chance for a No. 1 seed in the East, but they also blew their cool. As a result, they are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest and will play Northeast Louisiana on Thursday in Minneapolis.

"That was just emotion and frustration," said Duke center Christian Laettner, who spewed a stream of expletives at referee Gerry Donaghy in the second half and later was hit with a technical. "What I said to get the technical was the nicest thing I said to him all day."

Duke's choirboy image was not the only thing to take a battering with Laettner's behavior, which also included throwing North Carolina center Pete Chilcutt to the floor after a hard foul. The Blue Devils' vaunted defense was sliced and diced.

The Tar Heels went inside to senior forward and tournament MVP Rick Fox, who took advantage of his size, strength and experience over Duke sophomore Thomas Hill to score a game-high 25 points. They went outside to junior guard Hubert Davis, who scored 17 and hit three of four three-pointers.

And they followed the lead of point guard King Rice, who scored 12, had seven assists, made no turnovers and intimidated Bobby Hurley. The Blue Devils sophomore point guard, who had 18 points and six assists in Duke's win at Chapel Hill last Sunday, scored two points and made five turnovers yesterday.

"They controlled the game at both ends of the court," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was hit with a technical foul a little more than a minute into the game.

Laettner finished with a team-high 22 points, but had only had five rebounds along with four turnovers. He later blamed himself and his teammates for not preparing themselves properly for North Carolina.

"If you beat a team 10 times, they're going to kill you," said Laettner.

NORTH CAROLINA (96) -- Fox 10-16 3-3 25, Lynch 2-6 2-4 6, Chilcutt 2-5 4-4 8, H.Davis 7-14 0-0 17, Rice 5-7 1-2 12, Montross 3-3 1-2 7, Rodl 1-2 3-4 6, Phelps 2-3 1-1 5, Reese 2-3 0-0 4, Rozier 1-3 0-0 2, Sullivan 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Salvadori 1-1 0-0 2, Cherry 0-0 2-2 2, Wenstrom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-64 17-22 96.

DUKE (74) -- G.Hill 4-9 2-2 10, B.Davis 2-2 4-4 8, Laettner 9-18 3-4 22, T.Hill 1-11 0-0 2, Hurley 0-4 2-2 2, McCaffrey 2-4 0-0 5, Lang 1-3 0-0 2, Koubek 7-13 2-3 21, Buckley 1-1 0-0 2, Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Palmer 0-0 0-0 0, Ast 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-66 13-15 74.

Halftime--North Carolina 49, Duke 36. 3-point goals--North Carolina 7-11 (Davis 3-4, Fox 2-3, Rice 1-2, Rodl 1-1, Sullivan 0-1), Duke 7-16, .438 (Koubek 5-7, McCaffrey 1-1, Laettner 1-2, T.Hill 0-2, Hurley 0-4). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--North Carolina 37 (Chilcutt 8), Duke 28 (G.Hill 7). Assists--North Carolina 21 (Rice 7), Duke 10 (Hurley, McCaffrey 3). Total fouls--North Carolina 15, Duke 14. Technicals--Duke bench, Laettner. A--23,532.

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