DALLAS — The ACC will have a representative at the Final Four. It may not be one many expected to start the season.

DJ Burns Jr. scored 29 points, including 21 in the second half, to carry 11th-seeded NC State to a 76-64 win over fourth-seeded Duke in Sunday’s South Regional final, punching the program’s first ticket to the Final Four since Jim Valvano and company won it all in 1983.

In Phoenix, the Wolfpack will face Zach Edey and Purdue, which advanced earlier in the day with a win over Tennessee.

Burns scored only four points in NC State’s Sweet 16 matchup against Marquette but made his mark on that game with seven assists. “You’re going to double-team, I’m going to do my best to make you pay,” Burns said Saturday ahead of the Duke game.

Regardless of defenders, the 6-foot-9 big man charged the Blue Devils on Sunday. A lot.

He scored NC State’s first four points, but foul trouble later in the half kept him from completely dominating.

“I wasn’t too worried about it,” Burns said postgame.

Turns out, he didn’t need to be. NC State trailed 27-21 at halftime. After that, it was all about Burns, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the South Region.

“I’m glad he’s on my team,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. “I don’t know how you guard him. And I hope nobody figures that out.”

NC State trailed 27-21 at halftime. After that, it was all about Burns, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the South Region.

It was the third time in the past month the two teams faced each other. In an NC State loss on March 4, Burns scored 27. In a Wolfpack victory in the ACC tournament on March 14, Burns scored only 10. On Sunday, he put it all together — big numbers and an even bigger victory — capped by a three-point play with just under a minute left.

Guard DJ Horne added 20 points and three assists for the Wolfpack, who lost their final four regular-season games before this run that has them as one of the last four teams standing.

“The memories that they’re creating are memories that’ll last a lifetime,” Keatts said. “That’s what’s really special.”

Freshman guard Jared McCain had 32 points and six rebounds for Duke. Big man Kyle Filipowski had 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

Burns, Horne, McCain and Filipowski earned four of the five spots on the South Regional All-Tournament team, with Marquette’s Tyler Kolek securing the other.

Required reading

(Photo: Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)


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