Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Nolan Smith finished with 29 points, leading top-seeded Duke back into the Final Four with a 78-71 victory over Baylor in the South Regional final.
Duke had not advanced to the Final Four since 2004, but did so Sunday thanks to a potent three-point shooting attack. Smith hit 4-of-6, while Jon Scheyer made 5-of-10 on his way to 20 points. The Blue Devils (33-5) made only 22 field goals, but half of them came from beyond the arc.
Duke is the only No. 1 seed left in the tourney and will look to advance to the national title game for the first time since 2001 next Saturday in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils will play West Virginia, the East Region champion, in a national semifinal.
LaceDarius Dunn had 22 points and six rebounds for the Bears (28-8), who were looking to make the Final Four for the first time in the modern era, having last gotten there in 1950.
Ekpe Udoh added 18 points, 10 boards, six assists and five blocks for third- seeded Baylor.
The game was close throughout, but Duke used a 12-1 run in the final minutes to effectively clinch the win. The Blue Devils were down by one, and Smith made his first free throw with about 3 1/2 minutes left to even the contest.
He missed the second, but Duke got the rebound and Smith hit a three. The Bears had several chances for points at the other end, but all missed, and Scheyer came back with a three from the left wing, making it a 67-61 contest with 2:38 left.
Udoh got to the line on Baylor's next touch, as Duke center Brian Zoubek fouled out, and made his first attempt. The Bears got a break after Udoh missed his second shot, but Dunn's contested three was off the mark, keeping Baylor in a 67-62 hole as the clock ran under two minutes.
Kyle Singler tried a three from the left corner on Duke's next possession, but had it bounce off the rim. However, the Bears failed to block out in the lane, allowing Lance Thomas to time his jump and slam in the rebound. Thomas was fouled on the play, and his free throw made it 70-62 with 1:36 remaining.
A Tweety Carter turnover led to another Duke possession, in which Scheyer was trapped and called timeout. He got tied up with several Baylor players, leading to an overflow of emotion, as players from both teams gathered near midcourt. Baylor's Quincy Acy was called for a technical foul, and Scheyer knocked down a pair of free throws. They provided a 10-point cushion with 1:19 to go for Duke, which sealed the win at the foul line.
Duke made six three-pointers in the first half, but Baylor shot 52 percent and scored 10 of the final 13 points to go into halftime with a 35-32 edge.
It remained a one- or two-possession contest in the second half, and became especially tight down the stretch as the teams traded blows. Smith drained a three before Udoh countered with a jumper, which put Baylor up 61-60 with 3:51 left.
Duke has advanced to the Final Four 15 times in school history...Baylor was playing in its first Elite Eight game in the modern era...Duke shot 36.1 percent overall, and made 23-of-29 free throws...Carter and Acy each scored 12 for Baylor, which made 45.8 percent of its shots, but went only 5-of-18 from beyond the arc and 12-of-19 from the foul line.