NEW YORK (AP) -- J.J. Redick finally was able to relax with 8.3
The Duke guard scored a season-high 31 points to help the
top-ranked Blue Devils beat pesky Drexel 78-68 in the NIT Season
Tip-Off semifinals Wednesday night.
"It wasn't an easy game for us," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
said. "Drexel played a great game. They knocked us back
Duke (4-0) had run through its first three opponents, winning by
an average of 33 points, holding them to 36.5-percent shooting, and
forcing 57 turnovers.
"It wasn't until Shelden [Williams] made those on the line that
I knew it was over," Redick said of his teammate's free throws
with 8.3 seconds left.
Drexel (3-1) wasn't intimidated facing a top-ranked team for the
first time in school history and found itself trailing 52-50 with
14:31 left in the second half before Duke went on a 7-0 run to take
"We had some tough turnovers and a couple of easy shots that we
missed," said Drexel coach Bruiser Flint.
Josh McRoberts had four points during the 7-0 run that put the
Blue Devils ahead 59-50. Drexel could get no closer than five the
rest of the way.
Duke advanced to the championship game Friday night against the
winner of the semifinal between No. 11 Memphis and No. 16 UCLA.
The Blue Devils will most likely have to play without guard
DeMarcus Nelson on Friday night. He injured his right ankle with
10:25 left in the first half.
"The initial prognosis is a hairline fracture," Krzyzewski
Nelson went to the hospital for X-rays.
Dominick Mejia, a junior who transferred from North Carolina
State, scored a season-high 25 points, including 14 in the first
half to lead Drexel.
"We came out with the attitude of no fear," Mejia said.
Bashir Mason added 15 for the Dragons.
Sheldon Williams had 12 of his 20 points for the Blue Devils in
the second half, despite picking up his fourth foul with 15:37 left
in the game.
The Dragons stayed with Duke in the first half, taking as big as
a five-point lead, 16-11 at 11:46. Duke answered with a 7-0 run to
take an 18-16 advantage. The lead changed 16 times after that, and
Duke lead 41-40 at the break.
"It's easy to play your best basketball against the No. 1 team
in the country," Flint said.
Redick had 17 points in the first half and moved into 13th place
on the school's career scoring list, passing Dick Groat and Jeff
"Redick saved us," Krzyzewski said. "He was trying to put the
whole team on his back."
With the victory, Krzyzewski tied Temple's John Chaney for 14th
place on the career victory list 725. The Blue Devils also improved
to 17-2 in the tournament.
Drexel, from the Colonial Athletic Association, is off to its
best start since 1997-98 it also went 3-0. The Dragons beat
Princeton and Sam Houston State to get to New York and hoped to be
the first unranked team to knockoff a No. 1 team since Xavier beat
St. Joseph's on March 11, 2004, in the quarterfinals of the
Atlantic 10 tournament.