Duke, UNC advance to semifinals

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The quarterfinal round of the 41st Atlantic Coast Conference tournament was about the same for Duke and North Carolina as the regular season: successful but not completely dominant.

While the top-seeded Blue Devils and second-seeded Tar Heels advanced into today's semifinals en route to an expected showdown in tomorrow's championship game, neither had it easy yesterday.


Duke (23-4) needed a spurt late in the second half to put away Clemson, 77-64. Senior All-American Grant Hill finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals to lead the Blue Devils.

North Carolina (25-6) used a similar burst to put away Florida State, 83-69, for Dean Smith's 799th career victory. But it was the play of two freshmen and future All-Americans, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, that led the Tar Heels.


Wallace, making his second straight start, finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. Stackhouse had 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Junior Bob Sura led Florida State (13-14) with 24 points.

"I think we played a terrific second half," said Smith, who will be looking to become the only Division I coach aside from the late Adolph Rupp at Kentucky to win 800 games. "We rebounded well. Wallace was all over the place."

Said Seminoles coach Pat Kennedy, whose team will not be going to any postseason tournaments for the first time since joining the ACC three years ago: "Rasheed Wallace is as fine a player as there is in the country. I think Rasheed and Jerry Stackhouse are the difference for them right now."

Hill is the difference for the Blue Devils. After leading by as much as 55-43 with 9:53 left in the game, Duke saw Clemson (16-15) climb within 62-58 on a tip-in by Sharone Wright (16 points, 13 rebounds) with 4:08 to play. But a three-pointer by Hill gave the Blue Devils a seven-point lead, and the eighth-seeded Tigers never threatened again.

"Clemson is very difficult for us to play," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose Blue Devils beat the Tigers for the third time this season, all of which were close. "They are good. They are physical. We just never got into a good tempo offensively. I think we defended Devin Gray better than we have before, although he had a good game."

Gray, the 6-7 junior from Baltimore (St. Frances), scored a team-high 19 points for the Tigers to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

"I would have like to have won it," outgoing Clemson coach Cliff Ellis said after his last ACC game. "Clemson has never won an ACC title. In fact, Clemson hasn't won many games in this tournament."

In the last quarterfinal game, third seed Wake Forest used a 15-3 run late in the first half and early in the second to blow out sixth-seeded Georgia Tech, 74-49.


The victory gave Demon Deacons coach Dave Odom his first ACC tournament victory after four successive defeats and put ++ Wake Forest (20-10) into today's second semifinal against North Carolina. The one-sided defeat might have put an NCAA bid into jeopardy for Georgia Tech (16-12).

"I think this is a big burden off of us," said Wake Forest senior Trelonnie Owens. "We haven't won an ACC tournament game before and now we're ready to take the next step."

Said Yellow Jackets coach Bobby Cremins, "We've got to cross our fingers. I hope they [the selection committee] don't base the whole season on one game. We've got to hope for the best."

Cremins blamed himself for going too long with injured star James Forrest, last year's ACC tournament MVP, who scored 10 points and had only two rebounds while playing 31 hobbled minutes on a badly sprained ankle. Sophomore guard Drew Barry, also playing with an injury, scored four points in 27 minutes.