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Duke avoids upset, edges Virginia Tech.

Byline: Howard Fendrich AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON -- Zion Williamson soared for a two-handed, rim-rattling, crowd-thrilling alley-oop slam that gave Duke its biggest lead during a tight tussle against Virginia Tech in the East Region semifinals.

He is known for his dunks, to be sure, but he can do more. So much more. And now Williamson and two of the Blue Devils' other fabulous freshmen have them one victory away from the Final Four. Just barely, though, thanks to yet another miss by an opponent.

Williamson scored 23 points, RJ Barrett had 18 and a career-high 11 assists, and Tre Jones added 22 points and 8 assists, helping No. 1 overall seed Duke avoid an NCAA Tournament upset and edge No. 4-seeded Virginia Tech 75-73 on Friday night.

The Hokies had their chances in the closing seconds, the final one coming on an inbounds play with 1.1 seconds left. The ball went to Ahmed Hill as he jumped to the basket, but his attempt to tie it failed to fall. Hill dropped to the court on his back as Williams -- fittingly -- grabbed the basketball and smiled broadly. It was similar to the way two last-gasp shots went off the rim for Duke's second-round opponent, UCF.

Before that final miss, both Hill and Ty Outlaw airballed 3-point attempts that would have put Virginia Tech ahead.

But Duke got through, even though it trailed much of the evening, including 38-34 at halftime.

In the Elite Eight on Sunday, Duke (32-5) will take on No. 2 seed Michigan State.

It took Duke 13 1/2 minutes just to grab its initial lead, on a three-point play by Jones that made it 26-24.

But Justin Robinson -- the senior point guard who missed 12 games before the NCAAs with a hurt foot -- and Hill soon replied by sinking 3s, pushing the Hokies back in front.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. led the Hokies with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Hill scored 15.

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Title Annotation:Sports_
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 30, 2019
Words:325
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