Brad Brownell
Coach K
Clemson Basketball

Second half dooms Tigers in loss to top-ranked Duke, 87-68

January 5, 2019

DURHAM -- Brad Brownell and the Clemson Tigers were looking to do something that hasn’t been done since 1995: Beat Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Oddly, Duke had not won their conference opener since 2015. Something had to give on Saturday night.

Clemson (10-4, 0-1), entered the game riding a four-game winning streak and stuck with No. 1 Duke (12-1, 1-0) in the first half, but in the end, the talent took over in an 87-68 loss Saturday night.

Zion Williamson, Duke’s freakish freshman, who Clemson just missed on during the last recruiting cycle, introduced himself to the primetime audience with a thunderous dunk to open the scoring. Williamson finished with 25 points on 9-11 shooting with ten rebounds and two blocked shots.

His opening slam wouldn’t be his best of the night as the Spartanburg native threw down an explosive 360-dunk late, reminding Clemson fans of what could have been.

Early on, the two teams traded buckets, but it was Eli Thomas that kicked off the scoring for the Tigers with a quick response to the Williamson’s jam. Thomas led the Tigers in scoring in the first half with ten points and finished with a solid 14 point outing.

Marcquise Reed added 15 points, leading the Tigers while Shelton Mitchell scored 11 points in the loss. 

After a David Skara layup midway through the first half was wiped out by video review, the senior forward knocked down a three-pointer giving Clemson the lead with 10:27 left in the first half.

Late in the first half, Duke put together a quick 7-0 run, extending their lead to 34-26. Clemson’s Reed answered with five points of his own after back-to-back free throws, and a three-pointer kept things from getting out of hand.

At the break, top-ranked Duke led 40-33.

Things went downhill from there as the Blue Devils opened the second half with a 14-0 run, shutting down any hopes stealing a win in Durham. R.J. Barrett and Jack White hit a 3-pointers during the streak. Barrett, the ACC’s leading scorer, added just 13 points, while White scored 12. 

Eventually, the Devil’s lead ballooned to 28 and the closest Clemson would be again was 19 points back. Coincidentally, the Tigers turned the ball over 19 times which lead to 27 points for Duke.

Clemson begins a tough stretch to open ACC play hitting the road to face Syracuse at 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

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Second half dooms Tigers in loss to top-ranked Duke, 87-68

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