TIGS SHOCK DEVILS

Jan. 11, 2014 @ 09:31 PM

The toughness, that floor-slapping, bring your best toughness Duke basketball is renowned for, has gone missing.

The Blue Devils themselves admitted it Saturday after Clemson easily erased a nine-point, second-half deficit to beat No. 16 Duke 72-59 at a sold-out Littlejohn Coliseum.

For the second Saturday in a row, the Blue Devils (12-4, 1-2 in ACC) appeared to have an ACC road win in their grasp. But, just like in a 79-77 loss at Notre Dame a week earlier in which Duke squandered a 10-point second half lead, the opponent refused to lose. Now Duke has started its ACC schedule 1-2 for the first time since 2006-07.

“We scored 22 points in the second half,” said Duke forward Rodney Hood, one of the team’s captains. “They out-toughed us. When we were going to the basket, they jumped in our way. They are a good, athletic team. Give credit to them. They played a good game, but….”

With that, Hood’s voice trailed off. The subject wasn’t pleasant.

On the same Littlejohn Coliseum court two days earlier, Clemson (11-4, 2-1) was trounced 56-41 by Florida State.

That didn’t matter against Duke. The Tigers suffocated Duke, particularly in the second half, holding the Blue Devils to their fewest points and worst shooting day (33.9 percent) of the season.

“We’re not very good right now and that’s on me as a coach,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I never bad mouth my team or any guy. We win together. We lose together. But we’re not very good right now and we’ve got to take steps to try to get to be good, because the league is unforgiving.”

The 22 points Duke managed over the final 20 minutes marked its worst scoring half of the season. The same can be said for Duke’s 25 percent shooting in the second half. The Blue Devils haven’t shot that poorly in any half this season.

“A lot of it was their defense and then we missed some shots that we should hit,” Krzyzewski said. “In saying that, I’m not sure that would have been enough to beat them.”

Duke shot 44 percent in the first half against Clemson and, when Hood drilled a 3-pointer to open the second half, the Blue Devils led 40-31.

But they managed just 19 points over the final 19 minutes, failing to make a field goal over the game’s final 6:23.

“They didn’t do much different,” Duke senior guard Tyler Thornton said. “They clogged the paint a little more. But on offense they were able to get easy baskets in transition. We kind of let our offense hurt our defense in the second half.”

Duke point guard Quinn Cook, who was 3 of 14 from the field and scored eight points, said, “We’re not taking tough shots. Not doing anything tough.”

Duke’s defense, a weak link at times this season, was serviceable in the first half when Duke led by as many as 10 and took a 37-31 halftime lead. Clemson shot 42.3 percent.

But just when it appeared Duke would pull away, the Tigers began finding open lanes to the basket in transition and half-court sets. Two layups and a conventional 3-point play by guard Rod Hall gave Clemson seven consecutive points and Duke’s lead was 40-38.

Hood, who scored a team-best 20 points, hit two more baskets, including a floater in the lane to put Duke up 47-42.

Hood’s two free throws at 11:50 gave Duke a 50-46 lead.

But Clemson kept pounding the ball inside and kept dominating the boards. The Tigers outrebounded Duke 48-30 as three Clemson players — Jaron Blossomgame (14), Landry Nnoko (13) and K.J. McDaniels (10) reached double figures on the boards.

Blossomgame stepped outside to hit an open 3-pointer with 9:25 left, giving Clemson a 52-50 lead. The Tigers never trailed again.

Blossomgame’s second 3-pointer, this one when he was left open in the left corner, put Clemson ahead 57-54 and the Tigers never relinquished the lead.

Duke’s final field goal came when Jabari Parker rebounded a Hood miss and tossed the ball out to Cook, who hit a 3-pointer that cut Clemson’s lead to 59-57.

But McDaniels, who scored 24 points, drove to the basket to score and added a free throw after being fouled by Thornton. Clemson’s lead was 62-57 and it steadily grew from there.

“We just have to get tough,” Cook said “No one is going to make it easy for us. We’re everybody’s biggest game and we have to realize that. We just have to get tough.”

CLEMSON 72, No. 16 DUKE 59

 

FG

FT

Reb

DUKE

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Parker

33

5-13

3-4

3-7

1

3

15

Cook

40

3-14

0-0

0-3

7

4

8

Hood

33

7-16

3-5

0-1

0

3

20

Sulaimon

12

0-2

2-2

1-1

0

4

2

Jefferson

27

3-4

1-2

0-6

1

1

7

Thornton

23

1-2

0-0

0-0

2

5

3

Jones

3

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Hairston

8

0-0

0-0

1-2

0

0

0

Ojeleye

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Dawkins

20

1-7

2-2

1-6

1

3

4

Totals

200

20-59

11-15

8-30

12

23

59

Percentages: FG .339, FT .733.

3-Point Goals: 8-25, .320 (Hood 3-5, Parker 2-6, Cook 2-7, Thornton 1-2, Jones 0-1, Dawkins 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 4.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Parker 2).

Turnovers: 5 (Dawkins 2, Cook, Parker, Thornton).

Steals: 5 (Cook 3, Thornton 2).

Technical Fouls: None.

 

FG

FT

Reb

CLEMSON

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Blossomgame

35

5-10

2-5

4-14

1

2

14

Hall

37

3-10

5-7

1-2

4

0

11

Roper

19

3-7

0-0

0-1

0

1

7

McDaniels

36

8-15

7-8

2-10

0

1

24

Nnoko

25

4-7

2-6

6-13

0

3

10

Filer

10

1-1

0-0

0-0

1

1

2

Harrison

19

1-3

2-2

0-1

0

3

4

Smith

10

0-0

0-2

0-1

0

3

0

Djambo

2

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

Djitte

7

0-0

0-0

0-5

0

2

0

Totals

200

25-53

18-30

14-48

6

17

72

Percentages: FG .472, FT .600.

3-Point Goals: 4-11, .364 (Blossomgame 2-4, McDaniels 1-2, Roper 1-3, Hall 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 1.

Blocked Shots: 7 (Nnoko 4, McDaniels 3).

Turnovers: 10 (Filer 3, Djitte 2, Roper, Smith, Harrison, Hall, Nnoko).

Steals: 4 (Roper 2, Harrison, Blossomgame).

Technical Fouls: None.

Duke

37

22—59

Clemson

31

41—72

A_9,842.

Officials_Bryan Kersey, Terry Wymer, Dwayne Gladden.