The victory sets up a date in the finals with No. 11 Marquette, a team that defeated Duke 73-62 a year ago in the finals of the CBE Classic.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski told the media following the game that he wasn't surprised to see the Golden Eagles awaiting his team in the finals.
"Coming into this tournament we felt Marquette was the team that presented the biggest challenge because of their veterans," said Duke's head coach. "I hope our team has the energy and stamina because you have to play a great game to beat them."
Earning a shot at Marquette didn't come easy for Duke as the Illini controlled the rebounding department of the game and exploited their big advantage on the inside for most of the game, out-rebounding Duke 22-5 on the offensive end, and earning 31 second chance points to just eight for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils' saving grace was their pressure defense which contested every shot and held Illinois to just 32.3 shooting from the field, while forcing 11 turnovers.
After taking a four point lead early on, Illinois went cold from the field as Duke built a 42-25 advantage before an 11-2 spurt by the Illini made it a 44-36 game at the half. The run continued after intermission, with Bruce Weber's team scoring the first five points of the half to cut the lead to three, but Duke countered with a 9-2 spurt to rebuild the lead to 10 points - a lead Duke would never surrender.
Greg Paulus added 10 points for Duke, while Kyle Singler added eight points and five rebounds before fouling out. Sophomore Jon Scheyer added seven points and seven rebounds while playing a team high 32 minutes.