Duke Pulls Away From Illini, 72-62

After watching Illinois put on an offensive display against Cincinnati, Duke looked to be on dangerous ground walking into Atlanta. However a tremendous effort by senior Chris Duhon coupled with a hot streak from the field in the second half helped the Blue Devils dispatch the Fighting Illini 72-62.

The Blue Devils shot a sizzling 16-of-23 after intermission to change a one point lead to as many as 13 before holding on down the stretch. For Illinois it was a complete 180 from Saturday's destruction of the Bearcats that saw the Illini shot over 60% from the field.

Freshman Luol Deng scored 18 points and pulled down six rebounds for Duke, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since winning a third National Title in 2001.

After coasting by an average of 31 points in the first two rounds, the Blue Devils found themselves in a battle as Illinois raced out to an 8-2 lead thanks to transition baskets. Duke would quickly rally to lead by as many as eight before a 10-3 Illinois run cut the lead to one at the break.

The second half started with Duhon finding Shelden Williams for a transition slam to push the lead to three. After another inside basket from Williams, Deng earned a trip to the line to push the lead to four. Illinois would get no close as J.J. Redick hit a pair of big threes late to push the margin to double figures.

Redick finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting while Williams added points, three rebounds, and three blocks.

Duhon, who continues to be plagued by severely bruised ribs, ended with 4 points, eight assists, and a career high 11 rebounds. Despite diving out of bounds, and being shoved to the floor by Illinois players in two instances, the 6-foot-1 senior still managed to log 39 of the 40 minutes.

The Blue Devils win improves them to 30-5 on the season and sets up a regional final match up with surprising seventh seeded Xavier, which beat Texas 79-71 in the other semifinal earlier in the night.

Game time is set for 5:05 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. The winner advances to San Antonio for the Final Four.

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