EditorsNote: update 2: adds quotes, further details
Zion Williamson scored 23 points and Tre Jones hit five 3-point baskets on the way to 22 points as top-seeded Duke beat fourth-seeded Virginia Tech 75-73 Friday in a wild NCAA Tournament East Region semifinal at Washington.
Virginia Tech missed three shots in the final 10 seconds, including a pair of 3-point attempts.
“We’re still dancing, so I can’t complain as long as we’re winning,” Duke forward Javin DeLaurier said.
RJ Barrett scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and also finished with 11 assists as the Blue Devils returned to a regional final for the second year in a row.
“We felt great about winning because we had to play outstanding basketball in order to win,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Duke (32-5) next has a Sunday meeting with second-seeded Michigan State (31-6), an 80-63 winner against third-seeded LSU in the first regional semifinal Friday. The Blue Devils-Spartans victor will advance to the Final Four in Minneapolis.
Blue Devils freshman Cam Reddish didn’t play due to a left knee injury.
Jones’ fifth 3-pointer made it 71-66 before Williamson added a dunk with three minutes to play — and suddenly Duke fans were drowning out the noise created by rowdy Virginia Tech supporters.
Justin Robinson, though, sank a pair of foul shots with 29.6 seconds left, pulling the Hokies within 75-73.
Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one and Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill grabbed the rebound. He then ariballed a 3-point attempt, but the Hokies rebounded and called timeout with 5.8 seconds to go. Ty Outlaw hit only backboard on a 3-point try but Virginia Tech got a rebound and one last chance.
On another inbounds pass with 1.1 seconds left, Hill’s running catch-and-shoot from the lane bounced off.
“It was still the right play,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said, noting that game officials added time on the clock after initially it appeared only 0.6 remained. “The pass was perfect.”
Williamson said, “Just kind of went our way with that play.”
Kerry Blackshear Jr. posted 18 points for Virginia Tech (26-9). Hill poured in 13 of his 15 points in the first half, Robinson tallied 14, and Wabissa Bede had 10.
Duke started the second half strong with Barrett posting 13 points in less than eight minutes. By the time the Blue Devils finished a fastbreak with a Williamson dunk, it was 58-52, and the Hokies called timeout at the 10:23 mark.
Duke had its 60-52 lead trimmed to 64-61 with less than six minutes to go, but Williamson blocked a shot, leading to Jones’ jumper in transition.
Virginia Tech pulled in 17 offensive rebounds yet managed only nine second-chance points.
“That hurts,” Williams said. “That speaks to the competitiveness of the game.”
Virginia Tech led 38-34 at halftime, making seven of its first 13 attempts from 3-point range. Duke shot 51.9 percent from the field in the opening half.
Jones, a freshman guard, made two 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes. He had more than one trey in only two other games this season, both in November.
“I wasn’t trying to take any shots out of rhythm,” Jones said. “Putting in a lot of work to get to this point.”
With Reddish sidelined, Alex O’Connell, a sophomore guard who didn’t play Sunday in the Blue Devils’ victory against Central Florida, made his seventh career start and scored four points.
Reddish has started all 35 games in which he has played.
Duke’s Jack White, who missed the first two NCAA Tournament games with a hamstring injury, was back in action off the bench but played less than three minutes. He didn’t score.
Williamson and Virginia Tech guard Justin Robinson both missed the teams’ Feb. 26 meeting, when the Hokies won 77-72 at Blacksburg, Va.
This was the ninth matchup between Atlantic Coast Conference teams in NCAA Tournament play. The Blue Devils defeated Syracuse in last March’s Sweet 16 round.
—Field Level Media