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The Shot Falls Short

J.J. Redick's three-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front of the rim, thwarting a 14-point comeback effort that Redick started in earnest at the 2:14 mark.  WINSTON-SALEM -- It had all the makings of Hill-to-Laettner.

Patrick Johnson, a former baseball player, wound up at the baseline with 2.2 seconds remaining Wednesday night, and everyone in the house knew where the ball was going. J. J. Redick, who had just unleashed his third three-pointer in the game"s final 2:14 to miraculously bring fourth-ranked Duke back to within three points of No. 7 Wake Forest, was ready for The Shot II.

But no sooner than Redick had received the heave, dribbled down the sideline and chucked up a miracle did the ball clank off the rim, crushing any hopes of a repeat of the Blue Devils" heart-stopping win in the 1992 Elite Eight and the potential shot of the year as the Demon Deacons held on in a thriller, 92-89.

'I thought it might go in, the way the things we"re going,' Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser said. 'When he"s shooting "em from the 919 area code and we"re 336, that"s pretty impressive.'

The long-distance spree began just after Demon Deacons point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points and six assists, blasted down the baseline and hit a jumper to put Wake Forest (18-3, 6-2 in the ACC) ahead 84-75. Redick answered with a behind-the-back dribble and a pulsating shot for three of his 33 points.

Two plays later, Paul tried a three of his own, but it rimmed out and Redick went behind his back again and made it a game. Crumbling to the floor as he released a three with just under a minute to go, Redick slung Duke (16-2, 6-2) to within two.

Deacons forward Eric Williams followed the ensuing timeout with a tip-in off one of his 11 offensive rebounds, but Redick drove back for a scoop off the glass. After Paul hit two free throws with 23.3 seconds left, Redick and Lee Melchionni missed from beyond the arc before Redick loaded up another one from the corner and gave Duke a final chance down one.

'J.J. did everything he could to keep them in the game,' Wake Forest guard Taron Downey said. 'He hit a couple threes at the end of the game, and it seemed like they just didn"t want to die--and they didn"t.'

 Duke came back from double-digit deficits throughout the second half, but until Redick hit the three with 2:14 left Wake always had a knockout blow in store. After the Blue Devils cut a 14-point Deacons lead to seven in just over two minutes, Shelden Williams blocked another Eric Williams putback to set up Redick for another dagger. But his three-point attempt glanced off the rim, and Downey threw up an alley-oop to Trent Strickland to put Wake ahead 82-73 with less than three minutes to play

Opening the second period, the Blue Devils were perfect from the floor and cut the lead to one on a Shavlik Randolph three-pointer, but Paul would pick up eight straight points to stretch the margin back to 11.

Melchionni"s deep shot three minutes later brought Duke to within six, but two straight Blue Devil fouls--the team had 19 fouls in the second half alone--left the ball in Wake"s hands, allowing the Deacons" Chris Ellis to slam home two of Wake Forest"s 25 second-chance points.

'They can score from a number of different positions, so you can"t key on one guy,' head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. 'Usually they can put, offensively, sometimes five guys out there who can score.'

Still, Paul was the one who had all the answers. After he and Daniel Ewing were each hit with a technical foul following a shoving match between the two teams late in the first half, Paul drove to the baseline for a wild reverse layup--a move he would repeat time and again, eventually forcing Ewing to foul out with just five points and 7:22 still to play in the Blue Devils" second heartbreaking loss of the year.

'They reacted better than us after the scuffle,' Redick said. 'And Daniel picked up the foul. That"s it.'


With the win, Wake moved into a second-place tie with Duke in the ACC standings.... Redick shot 10-for-22 for the game and 8-for-18 in the second half, his 33 points falling one short of a career high.... During one stretch of the second half, Redick took six straight shots for the Blue Devils.... With 16 points and 12 rebounds, Shelden Williams tallied his fourth-straight double-double.... Following the loss Wednesday night, Duke continues its roughest schedule stretch of the season, with Georgia Tech coming to Durham Saturday afternoon and North Carolina to follow.


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