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N.C. State and its 2 DJs headed to 1st Final Four since 1983 after 76-64 win over Duke

DALLAS — Bruising big man DJ Burns Jr. scored a season-high 29 points, DJ Horne scored 20 and 11th-seeded North Carolina State reached its first Final Four in four decades, beating Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke 76-64 in the South Region final Sunday.

N.C. State (26-14) is back in the national semifinals for the first time since the late Jim Valvano was sprinting around the court looking for someone to hug after winning the 1983 national title with an upset over Houston and Phi Slama Jama.

These Wolfpack head to Glendale, Arizona, next weekend with a nine-game winning streak. After losing their last four regular-season games, and seven of nine, they had to win five games in five days in the ACC Tournament, including a win over Duke in the quarterfinal round, just to get into the 68-team NCAA field. Now they will play Zach Edey and Purdue in the first national semifinal game, before defending champion UConn takes on Alabama.

Fourth-seeded Duke (27-9), which ousted top seed Houston in the Sweet 16 two nights earlier, missed out on its second Final Four in three seasons.

Soon after Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts was called for a technical foul with 8 minutes left, his team had a double-digit lead and was well on its way to becoming the seventh double-digit seed to make the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Jared McCain made both free throws for the technical that Keatts got after officials ruled a missed shot by Duke’s Kyle Filipowski that went over the backboard and off the shot clock went off one of his players. Replays showed that while maybe there should have been a foul since Burns made contact with Filipowski’s arm, the hand of the Wolfpack’s 6-foot-9, 275-pound forward wasn’t even close to the ball.

A minute later, Ben Middlebrooks had a steal that lead to a fast-break 3-pointer by Michael O’Connell. There was a foul called while the ball was in the air, so the Wolfpack kept possession and Burns made another nifty basket for a 53-42 lead.

O’Connell had six points, but finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

McCain led Duke with 32 points, the freshman guard hitting 8 of 20 shots and making all 11 of his free throws. Jeremy Roach had 13 points while 7-foot center Filipowski had 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 4:52 left and the Blue Devils already down eight.

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