Duke gets by Clemson 79-72 on the strength of an improved defense and good offensive outputs by Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard & Frank Jackson. Clemson went toe to toe with Duke for much of the game converting Duke turnovers into points and capitalizing on the Devils inability to defend without fouling. Duke had 6 turnovers in the first half but were in a good position, holding the lead until a technical foul by junior guard Grayson Allen killed the flow and put Clemson into the bonus. Consecutive offensive sequences with turnovers ensued and Clemson took the lead. Duke battled back to tie it at the half 33-33, even had a chance to take the lead until a turnover stalled an out-of-bounds play before halftime.
Clemson ended the game with a 12 point advantage at the free-throw line but Duke out-shot the Tigers overall in the game 49.2% to 39.3%. Where Duke struggled was at the 3 point line where they only shot 5 of 21 (23.8%), Clemson shot equally as bad at 25% on 4 of 16.
Duke from my perspective played dangerously with their margin for error, what could have very easily been a double-digit victory was siphoned off by live ball turnovers. Duke could have easily gone into halftime with a 10 or 12 point lead but the lack of execution and not being strong with the ball puts an extreme amount of pressure on the defense and subsequently the offense. The games where Duke turns it over eventually gives the opponent life in the waning moments. Duke has to do a much better job of valuing the ball going forward – the stall their own momentum and create opportunities for the other team. That all being said Duke picks up the win and does so not relying on the 3 point shot.
Luke Kennard had a bad first half but turned it around in the second half ending up with 20 points on 9 of 20 shooting, overcoming a 1-9 shooting effort in the first half to go 8-11 in the second. Jayson Tatum made acrobatic shots that show why he was such a coveted recruit, hitting on 7-15 shots and going 5-5 from the free throw line. Tatum nearly pulled off a double double with 9 rebounds to go with this 20 points.
Frank Jackson was his best self when driving to the basket, going 7-10 from the floor but still transitioning into a point guard has been tough and he was a little loose with the ball turning it over 3 times. Next up for Duke the vaunted defense of the Louisville Cardinals. Unfortunately for the Devils efforts to get rest for the starters didn’t materialize because of foul trouble for Harry Giles and Grayson Allen.