CHARLOTTE, N.C. - No. 3 Duke has its full roster back and appears dangerous once again.
Mike Dunleavy, in his second game back since mononucleosis, scored 15 points in 22 minutes as the top-seeded Blue Devils earned a chance to defend their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title by beating Wake Forest 82-73 in an ACC tournament semifinal Saturday.
Duke will play No. 20 Maryland today, after the Terrapins beat North Carolina State 64-61 in Saturday's other semifinal.
``He (Dunleavy) gave us a huge lift because some of the looks we were getting we weren't knocking them down,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said of his top reserve, who missed four games with his illness. ``You see that ball go in the basket and it helps you on the defensive end.
``This is the team that we've had most of the year,'' he added. ``So, we're trying to get into the mode again.''
Dunleavy, 4-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, had plenty of help as Duke (26-4) picked up its 3-point shooting in the second half, making nine long-range shots after starting 6-for-20.
``I'm just really confident right now,'' said Dunleavy, who is 10-for-12 from the field in two tourney games, including all seven 3-point tries. ``I've got fresh legs, I'm shooting the ball well and the shots are going down.''
Shane Battier led the way for the Blue Devils with 18 points, while Jason Williams had 16 points and 11 assists and Nate James 14 points. Carlos Boozer of Juneau scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
James was the key jump shooter in the second half for Duke, making four 3-pointers over the final 10:21.
``Our veterans played like veterans today,'' Krzyzewski said. ``Nate didn't score a point in the first half, and then all of the sudden he gets 14 in the second. He didn't wait until the next game to make his adjustment.''
Josh Howard had a season-high 19 points for the fifth-seeded Demon Deacons (17-14).
``I want our team to feel that they got better today,'' Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said. ``When you can play at the top of the heap for as long as we did with as much effort, execution and commitment as we did, you've got to feel you got better.''
The Blue Devils trailed by a point at the break and by four early in the second half before going on an 11-0 run to take command. Williams started the run with a 3pointer, and after four straight missed shots, Dunleavy made a long 3-pointer as Duke built the lead to 50-43.
Four minutes later, a 3-pointer by James increased the margin to 10 with 8:26 left, and Duke was on its way to its eighth straight win against the Demon Deacons.
``For 36 minutes it was a dead even game,'' Odom said. ``But as we all know there is win-time in basketball played at this level, and there was about a four-minute stretch there that they decided the game. Some of the things were acts of commission by them and acts of omission by us.''
Duke made an ACC tourney record 17 3-pointers in a 31-point first-round win Thursday night against Clemson, but started 1-for6 from long range against the Demon Deacons to fall behind by as many as eight.
The game was delayed about six minutes midway through the half to repair a ripped net on Duke's end after a follow shot by Battier. But the stoppage didn't slow down the Demon Deacons, who went up 26-18 on a pair of free throws by Darius Songaila and ended up shooting 54 percent for the half.
Dunleavy kept Duke close, scoring 12 points in 11 first-half minutes as Wake Forest led 37-36.
The Blue Devils were 3-3 this season when trailing at the half, but improved to 36-1 over the last two years against ACC competition.
``We've won a lot of close games so there's the impression of some type of dominance, and there is none,'' Krzyzewski said. ``We've just won close games. I would hope people would always think we're good for the ACC.''