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Updated: Sunday, March 28, 2004 10:29 PM EST
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(1) Duke 66, (7) Xavier 63

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Mike Krzyzewski's latest stud recruit helped him reach a 10th Final Four.

Freshman Luol Deng came up with a key assist and basket in the final three minutes as top-seeded Duke survived a stiff challenge from No. 7 Xavier for a 66-63 victory in the final of the Atlanta Region.

Duke (31-5) completed a foursome that includes Connecticut, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech heading to San Antonio. The lone top-seeded club to reach the Final Four, the Blue Devils face Connecticut on Saturday.

Deng gets to match up with high school teammate Charlie Villanueva because of his terrific effort. He scored 19 points, cementing the notion that he is the best freshman in the country and another major recruiting coup by Krzyzewski.

"We have worked very hard this season and it is just a wonderful feeling," Deng said. "I just feel fortunate that as a freshman I have a chance to play in the Final Four and possibly win a national championship."

Deng's most important plays were a pair of offensive rebounds. He outleaped a pair of Xavier players, appearing to commit a foul in the process, to snare Chris Duhon's miss with three minutes left. Deng found J.J. Redick for a 3-pointer and a 59-56 lead.

Duhon also missed on Duke's next possession, but Deng leaped high for a tip-in and a five-point cushion with 1:55 to go.

"Luol got very emotional, he was crying and he just stood up and expressed his feeling to the team that we needed to play outside of ourselves," Krzyzewski said. "For a freshman to do that, I think it had a tremendous impact on our team."

Making its first appearance in a regional final, Xavier (26-11) had its nine-game winning streak snapped.

The Musketeers were hurt when Anthony Myles, who netted 16 points, picked up a pair of questionable fouls - his fifth of the game coming with 12:27 left and Xavier holding a 44-41 lead.

"I thought somebody was going to be there (at the scorer's table to substitute), but I looked over and there was nobody there," Myles said. "Then, the play started and I did my best not to get my fifth foul, but he called it anyway."

Immediately after Myles fouled out, Daniel Ewing and Redick nailed 3-pointers to give Duke a 47-44 lead, its first of the second half.

Xavier somehow recovered from the loss of Myles and took a 56-53 lead on freshman Brandon Cole's free throw with 5:31 to go. Deng showed his mettle just 22 seconds later with a 3-pointer off an inbounds play to forge the game's final tie.

"He made some big plays for us, but he has played well all year long and throughout the tournament," Duhon said.

Duke turned in a dismal 33 percent (9-of-27) effort from the floor in the first half. Dedrick Finn's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Xavier a 30-28 lead at the break.

Myles had just one foul in 17 minutes in the first half but committed four in six second-half minutes. The officiating crew of Mike Kitts, Olandis Poole and Patrick Driscoll drew boos from the crowd at the Georgia Dome.

"I think that is just the game of basketball, especially when you play against these caliber of teams, everything is going to add up," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "I would never, ever say anything negative against the officials because that is not what our program is about, so please understand that."

Shelden Williams had 12 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks to spearhead Duke's inside attack. Myles was effective in putting a body on Williams before his fifth foul.

© 2005 STATS, Inc