Jon Scheyer fiddled absently Sunday evening with the loop he'd cut from the net at Reliant Stadium that represented a lifetime goal fulfilled.HOUSTON, Texas — Duke senior guard
A baseball cap that proclaimed Duke regional champions sat on Scheyer's left knee as the last few reporters hung around the locker room. Scheyer and junior backcourt partner Nolan Smith had just shredded Baylor's zone defense, combining for 49 points to lift Duke to a 78-71 win in the NCAA tournament's South Regional final.
The win propelled top-seeded Duke (33-5) into its first Final Four in six years. The Blue Devils will meet West Virginia, the No. 2 seed out of the East Regional, at about 8:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday in the NCAA semifinals in Indianapolis.
"It's a dream come true," Scheyer said. "It just is. To get that win, we had to work our butts off for it, and it felt great."
Smith and Scheyer carried the Blue Devils, combining for nine of Duke's 11 3-point goals against a Baylor zone defense that held Duke to 11-for-38 shooting from two-point range.
With a career-high 29 points, Smith kept talented, No. 3 seed Baylor (28-8) from running away with the win early. He also put Duke ahead to stay after going to the free throw line with the Bears leading by a point with 3 minutes, 36 seconds remaining.
Smith made the first free throw to tie the game, but missed the second. Teammate Lance Thomas tipped the rebound free and dug the ball off the floor. He passed quickly to Kyle Singler, who found Smith open in front of the Duke bench.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski immediately yelled for Smith to shoot it. He did, sinking a three-pointer that gave Duke the lead, and then shot Krzyzewski a smile.
On Duke's next possession, Brian Zoubek passed out to Scheyer in the short corner opposite the Blue Devils' bench. Scheyer, who's struggled with his shooting for most of the postseason, drilled a 3-pointer and ran back down the court pumping his fist.
Duke led 67-61 with 2:38 remaining, and Indianapolis was coming into focus.
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- Duke Basketball Database