Photo by Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle
ATLANTA -- Every so often, when Greg Paulus is reminded that fifth-year senior Dave McClure has been with the Duke program longer than anyone else, Paulus calls McClure "Uncle Dave." Sophomore Nolan Smith has a different nickname for McClure. He calls him "Rodman," and even suggested Saturday that McClure change his number from 14 to 91.
McClure isn't Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen--those roles are reserved for Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer--but he does all the little things that help the Blue Devils win. He rebounds, he defends and, when he has to, he scores.
And when McClure scores three of the game's biggest baskets and seals a 67-61 Duke win over Maryland with a transition layup off his own steal, his teammates might be more inclined to greet him with another one of his nicknames: "Super Dave."
McClure notched six points, all crucial in a tight second half, and No. 3 Duke (27-6) beat No. 7 Maryland (20-13) in the Georgia Dome to advance to its first ACC Tournament final since 2006. The Blue Devils play No. 4 Florida State, which upset top-seeded North Carolina, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"He was huge. He made a bunch of plays, not even where there are stats," said Scheyer, who scored a game-high 22 points, of McClure. "He just made a bunch of huge plays."
None bigger than the steal, drive and finish he executed with 5:35 left in the second half. On the previous possession, McClure backed down Dave Neal in the paint, drop-stepped to his left and banked in a shot with his left hand to give the Blue Devils a 54-43 lead, their biggest of the night, and force Maryland head coach Gary Williams to call a timeout.
Directly after that stoppage--when Duke fans' chants of "Drive home safely!" echoed in a cavernous arena--McClure picked off a lazy pass in the halfcourt, raced in front of the pack, finished with his left hand and drew a foul from Maryland's Landon Milbourne. The usually-stoic senior, known more for his hustle plays than his offensive skill set, yanked his fist up and down and was wrapped up in a bear hug by Henderson.
The sound of the crowd erupting was even more pleasing than the cacophony of palm-on-leather, which McClure had produced when he stuffed an Eric Hayes 3-pointer in the corner just minutes earlier.
"Dave brings the Dennis Rodman style of basketball," sophomore Nolan Smith said. "He blocks shots, he's going to rebound, he'll do the little things that won't show up in a stat box. Dave played a great game. He made so many big plays for us."
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