Kyle Singler committed five turnovers. Jon Scheyer had three. The Clemson Tigers had almost as many turnovers as field goals. Just in case anyone forgot, the Blue Devils and Tigers reminded everyone that style points do not win a basketball game.
Nolan Smith led the way as Duke outscored Clemson, 37-24 in the second stanza. The Blue Devils improved to 16-3 and 4-2.
After a first half removed of offensive flow and rhythm, Smith paced the Blue Devils with 15 of his game-high 22 in the second half as Duke took control.
Smith scored six straight as the Devils stretched their lead to 13.
Clemson, as they have throughout Oliver Purnell’s coaching tenure, pressed Duke throughout the game. The full-court defense kept Duke from settling into any semblance of offense as the Blue Devils were held 24 points under their season average. The full-court press has given the Tigers plenty of early-regular season success for the past five years. Unfortunately, the Tigers have not been able to convert that into post-season success. Clemson has been eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament the past two years. Before that the Tigers played in the N.I.T. Tournament for three years.
Scheyer entered play first in the country in assist to turnover ratio. On this night, the senior managed three assists to match his miscues.
Smith exploited gaps in the Clemson defense by getting to the rim off the dribble.
Lance Thomas chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Trevor Booker led the Tigers with 22.
Clemson went 18-48 from the field including 2-13 behind the arc. The Tigers committed 16 turnovers.
Clemson out-rebounded Duke 27-25.
Last year, Clemson crushed Duke, 74-47, at Littlejohn Coliseum. The win was Duke’s 23rd at Littlejohn against 17 losses.