Lance Thomas had a nasty, six-inch scratch across his face but wore a satisfied grin on Sunday night.DURHAM, N.C. – Duke senior forward
Thomas and the Blue Devils had just defeated Baylor 78-71 in the South Regional final in Houston to clinch their first trip to the Final Four in six years. No. 1 seed Duke (33-5) will meet No. 2 seed West Virginia (31-6) at about 8:45 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis.
The whole experience is especially gratifying for Thomas and fellow seniors Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek. When they enrolled as freshmen, Duke had one of its youngest teams ever. But the team steadily improved to the point where they will arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday as favorites to win the NCAA title.
"When you've invested in something for so long, it took our senior class four years to get this opportunity," Thomas said. "We've had our bumps and bruises along the way. But I feel like it strengthened us for this opportunity, and we took full advantage of it."
Scheyer, Thomas and Zoubek arrived at Duke along with Gerald Henderson — who left after last season for the NBA Draft and a roster spot with the Charlotte Bobcats. They joined a team that had lost two seniors — J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams — who later would have their jerseys retired.
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