A strong start wasn’t enough to propel Clemson to an upset against 6th ranked Duke at Littlejohn Coliseum Sunday night. The Blue Devils fought back from an early nine point deficit and pulled out a hard fought 73-66 win over the Tigers. It keeps the Dookies unbeaten in ACC play (3-0) while the Tigers drop to 1-2.
Clemson forced 17 Duke turnovers, won the rebounding battle (40-39) and even shot more free throws than the Blue Devils and it still wasn’t enough. Duke stretched its lead to double digits in the second half before the Tigers mounted a late rally to pull within four with less than a minute to play. The Blue Devils put the game away late with a big offensive rebound and by knocking down their free throws.
After the game, Tigers coach Brad Brownell wasn’t taking any moral victories.
“We’re here to win games. I understand that Duke’s a terrific team. They are obviously well coached and all of that, but we had opportunities to win the game.”
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You could probably point to free throws as the difference in the game. Duke made 15 of 18 from the line, while the Tigers made just 10 of 20. Considering some of the Clemson misses came on the front end of 1 and 1’s, it is easy to make the case the Tigers gave the game away on the charity stripe.
Give Duke plenty of credit though. They didn’t wilt under the presser of a packed house of boisterous Clemson fans. Andre Dawkins came off the bench to score 24 points and led all scorers. Dawkins hit five three pointers (one more than the entire Clemson team). He also made five of six from the free throw line.
“It’s pick your poison,” Brownell said. “They have so many good players, it’s hard to keep them all down.”
Milton Jennings led Clemson with 16 points. Devin Booker and Andre Young each had 12 points and Tanner Smith added 11.
Clemson is 9-8 and will play at Miami on Wednesday. Duke is at home against Wake Forest on Thursday night.