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COLLEGE HOOPS ROUNDUP: FSU to play for first ACC title with win against Duke

Florida State’s Luke Loucks reacts to making the last basket of the game against Duke, sending the Seminoles to today’s ACC Championship against North Carolina.

Florida State’s Luke Loucks reacts to making the last basket of the game against Duke, sending the Seminoles to today’s ACC Championship against North Carolina.

ATLANTA — Florida State made a statement by building a double-digit second-half lead on Duke.

Then the Seminoles made another one when they lost it.

Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said his team learned something when the Blue Devils mounted their inevitable charge to erase the deficit.

“I thought we grew up a little bit in that stretch when the game was in doubt,” Hamilton said.

Florida State advanced to only the second ACC tournament championship game in the program’s history by beating Duke 62-59 on Saturday. Michael Snaer scored 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining that gave the Seminoles the lead for good.

Marshall leads North Carolina to ACC title game

ATLANTA — Kendall Marshall banked in a shot with 10.2 seconds remaining and No. 4 North Carolina edged North Carolina State, 69-67 Saturday in a rugged game with a disputed finish, advancing to the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

C.J. Leslie, who led the Wolfpack with 22 points, fouled out with more than eight minutes remaining. North Carolina (29-4) lost its top scorer when Tyler Zeller picked up his fifth late in the game after scoring 23 points.

The 17th-ranked Seminoles will face No. 4 North Carolina, the tournament’s top seed, today as they try to win their first championship.

Hamilton said he was impressed his team didn’t lose its composure when the Blue Devils, the long-time power of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, made their run.

Florida State (23-9) recovered after blowing the 10-point lead and then had to survive some last-minute scares — including missed 3-point attempts by Duke’s Austin Rivers and Seth Curry in the final six seconds.

Hamilton said the Seminoles “were not overly concerned” after losing a 43-33 lead.

“We knew we were doing a good job of getting opportunities,” Hamilton said, adding he was confident his team could end its scoring drought with better execution.

A three-point play by Rivers gave Duke its last lead at 57-55. Snaer answered with his only 3-pointer of the game just 12 seconds later.

Snaer had a game-high six assists with two blocked shots and two steals, earning a big compliment from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I love Snaer,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s just a damn good player. I think he’s the best competitor in our league.”

The second-seeded Seminoles ended a run of three straight ACC tournament championships for Duke (27-6), which had won 10 of the last 13 titles.

“This tournament means a lot to us,” Krzyzewski said. “It hurts to lose. But we lost right. You can lose wrong; we lost right.”

Rivers led the Blue Devils with 19 points. Curry had 13.

The Seminoles’ only other appearance in the championship game came in 2009, also in Atlanta, when it lost to Duke.

Florida State pounded North Carolina 90-57 in Tallahassee on Jan. 14.

Snaer said playing the Tar Heels in the tournament final won’t be so easy.

“It’s North Carolina,” Snaer said. “We’ve got to go out there and be the tougher team.”

Florida State led 58-57 when it lost Ian Miller, who was called for a charge, his fifth foul. Duke’s Mason Plumlee also fouled out less than a minute later, and Florida State’s Luke Loucks made two free throws to push the lead to three points.

A layup by Rivers cut the lead to one point with 42 seconds remaining.

Loucks then dribbled the shot clock down before sinking a long jumper from the left wing.

Rivers, guarded closely by Snaer, missed a long 3-pointer with six seconds remaining. Following a turnover, a last-second attempt by Curry from just past midcourt banged off the rim, triggering the Seminoles’ celebration.

“It was the longest three seconds of my life,” Loucks said of the final play.

Mistakes helped Duke fall behind early. The Blue Devils, who average only 12 turnovers per game, gave the ball away 14 times in the first 20 minutes, leading to 17 points for Florida State.

Duke cleaned up its play, committing only two turnovers in the second half to finish with 16.

The Seminoles quickly added to their 33-31 halftime lead, scoring the first six points of the second half. Snaer penetrated the lane and lofted a short jumper to push the lead to 10 points.

Krzyzewski called his second timeout of the half and the Blue Devils responded with five straight points.

Suddenly the Seminoles showed signs of faltering.

A missed jam by Xavier Gibson, a steal but missed layup by Deividas Dulkys and a shot-clock violation by Dulkys helped Duke gain momentum to finally pull ahead with 5:03 remaining.

Hamilton didn’t panic.

“During that period we had good looks,” Hamilton said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t getting good shots; we just missed some of them.”


SEC ROUNDUP

KENTUCKY 74, FLORIDA 71: If John Calipari’s top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats encounter late-game adversity in the NCAA tournament, they’ll know how to handle it.

Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Kentucky held off Florida 74-71 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

“I’ve got this team that has that will to win. They want to win. They have great pride,” said Calipari, whose team has trailed in the second half of each of its first two SEC tournament games and never led either by more than single digits.

“We’re just really a young team that — every one of these experiences is good for my team.”

Terrence Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (32-1), who’ve won 24 straight and play next in Sunday’s tournament final against Vanderbilt, a 65-53 winner over Mississippi in the other semifinal.

Doron Lamb scored 16 points and Marquis Teague added 15, with each hitting a pair of key free throws in the last 15 seconds to secure the win against a Florida team which shot 48 percent, including 11 of 22 from 3-point range.

“We know people are going to give us their best shot every game, especially coming down to tournament time,” Teague said. “It really doesn’t matter how much you win by. We just want to make sure we get a win.”

Calipari was particularly pleased by the way Teague, who also had five assists, responded to a chat in the coach’s hotel room Friday night, hours after the freshman point guard had managed only two points in a close victory over LSU.

VANDERBILT 65, MISSISSIPPI 53: John Jenkins scored 23 points, Brad Tinsley added 12 and Vanderbilt beat Mississippi 65-53 in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals on Saturday.

It’s the first trip to the SEC championship game for Vanderbilt (23-10) since 1951, when the Commodores beat Kentucky 61-57. They’ve finally got another chance at a title thanks to timely outside shooting from Jenkins and Tinsley, who combined to hit five 3-pointers in the second half.

After a cold first half, Vanderbilt hit 50 percent (6 of 12) from 3-point range in the second half.

Vanderbilt outrebounded Ole Miss 36-29. Lance Goulbourne added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Commodores, who will play top-ranked Kentucky on Sunday.

Ole Miss (20-13) briefly took a 32-31 lead early in the second half, but Vanderbilt eventually buried the Rebels with well-timed 3-pointers and relentless defense.

The Rebels were led by Jarvis Summers, who scored 15 points. LaDarius White added 13.

Ole Miss had the pace it wanted from the opening tip — a deliberate, half-court game that kept it close.


BIG 10 ROUNDUP

No. 7 OHIO ST.. 77, No. 10 MICHIGAN 55: Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help No. 7 Ohio State defeat No. 10 Michigan 77-55 on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points and William Buford added 10 for the third-seeded Buckeyes (27-6), who advanced to play No. 8 Michigan State in the final on Sunday. Michigan State defeated No. 14 Wisconsin 65-52 in the other semifinal on Saturday.

The Buckeyes shot 49 percent from the field to earn a shot at their third straight Big Ten tournament title.

Tim Hardaway, Jr., led No. 2 seed Michigan with 13 points, but he made just 3 of 10 shots. Trey Burke, Michigan’s other star player, scored five points on 1-for-11 shooting and had eight turnovers

The Wolverines (24-9) shot 31 percent from the field, made just 4 of 25 3-pointers and committed 18 turnovers in one of their worst offensive performances of the season.

Ohio State and Michigan, better known for their football rivalry, have ramped up the one on the hardwood in recent years, too. The teams met the previous two years in the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State won 68-61 last year in the semifinals. Evan Turner’s 37-foot jumper as time expired gave the Buckeyes a 69-68 quarterfinal win in 2010.

This year, Ohio State and Michigan split their games during the regular season, and the teams shared the league’s regular-season title with Michigan State, setting up expectations for a competitive game on Saturday.

No. 8 MICHIGAN ST. 65, No. 14 WISCONSIN 52: Michigan State’s Draymond Green didn’t let go of the disappointment from last week’s loss to Ohio State.

Instead, he used it as motivation for the Big Ten tournament.

Green finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Austin Thornton scored all 12 of his points on 3-pointers Saturday, leading No. 8 Michigan State past No. 14 Wisconsin 65-52 and into its first conference title game since 2000.

“It’s just another opportunity for us. We had two chances to win the Big Ten outright, we didn’t do it,” Green said. “You can’t really make up for it, but it’s an opportunity to feel better about it if we get this conference tournament championship. It’s just another way to leave that footprint, leave your legacy.”

After finishing the regular season with consecutive losses at Indiana and at home against the Buckeyes, defeats that might have cost Michigan State (26-7) a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Spartans intend to take full advantage of a third opportunity to prove it is the Big Ten’s best team.