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Coming off a rare home loss to Virginia and playing their 3rd game in 5 days, the Blue Devils needed to build some momentum or at least create some energy. Clemson had been playing good basketball, taking the Tar Heels down to a possession before faltering. The Blue Devils having only beaten the Tigers by a bucket in Cameron knew they could be in for a dog fight.

The Blue Devils managed to build a 12 point lead, but took the majority of the first half to do it. Clemson would trim that lead to 9 with 19 second left in the first half but a layup from Paolo Banchero to end the half gave the Blue Devils an 11 point lead at the break. A scary moment occurred in the first half when junior Wendell Moore stole the basketball from guard David Collins for a breakaway dunk, Collins then shouldered and undercut Moore causing him to go horizontal at at the height of his dunk and fall hard and far on his back. Collins was ejected with the flagrant 2 foul call.

Clemson came out ini the second half efficient going on a 13-7 run to trim the Blue Devil lead down to 5. Duke would counter with an 18 to 9 run, 11 of which were scored by Trevor Keels, to put the game out of reach of the Tigers. Keels scored a game high 25 on 9-13 shooting and 3-6 from 3, he also pulled down 11 rebounds recording a double-double. Keels got help from sophomore Mark Williams who recorded a perfect game of 8-8 from the floor for 16 points. AJ Griffin regained his shooting touch going 4-5 from the 3 point line and scoring 12 points. Freshman Paolo Banchero again wasn’t efficient for the Blue Devils but scored 15 points but on 15 shots. Banchero did record 10 rebounds as well.

Junior Wendell Moore, despite taking that hard foul had a magnificent floor game for the Blue Devils, dishing 8 assists to lead the team without turning the ball over.  Moore also added 8 points and 4 rebound and played stellar defense to limit the Clemson guards.

The Blue Devils win it by 18, shooting 41% from 3 and 49% from the field overall while holding the Tigers to 38% shooting and 28% from 3. The Blue Devils out-rebounded the Tigers 42-33 and only gave up 7 offensive boards and only 5 second chance points. One of the more important stats for the Blue Devils have been turnovers and against Clemson Duke only turned the ball over 7 times as a team.


  • Rebounding: Duke rebounded the basketball better as they should against a smaller Clemson team.
  • Shooting: Duke shot the ball effectively but mostly on the backs of 3 players. Williams, Keels and Griffin were a combined 21-28 the rest of the team shot 10-35
  • Duke only turned he ball over 7 times for the game.


  • You’d expect a Duke team to respond with a little more verve when their captain was nearly injured intentionally.
  • Giving up 26 points in the paint to a small Clemson team isn’t ideal.

My Take:

Winning disguises a lot of things and by the numbers the Blue Devils did well, but Clemson definitely attempted to be physical with the Blue Devils and for a time it certainly worked. I can see teams doing that from here on out – especially on Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin. Banchero & Griffin specifically, for Duke to become who they were meant to be or at least what we all hope they will be, have to play better through contact on the offensive end. It’s tough to tell whether it was fatigue for the two freshmen but neither seemed able to maintain their shot balance on shots in the lane – yes, they were often bodied but those types of fouls as the year goes on are going to be called less. Adjusting to a more physical brand of basketball is going to be a huge determining factor in what happens to the Blue Devils going forward.