Clemson Alma Mater
The Clemson Tigers used a strong second-half surge to secure a 68-63 victory over No. 6 Duke in front of 12,972 fans at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Wednesday. The Tigers, who won their fourth straight game, moved to 11-6 overall and 4-1 in the ACC. Duke fell to 14-3 on the season, 3-1 in league play.
“Momentum is very powerful in basketball, and in young people. Our confidence is continuing to grow. Tonight we just hung in there and fought for it,” said a smiling head coach Brad Brownell.
Landry Nnoko led the Tigers with a double-double, posting 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Jaron Blossomgame scored 17, while Donte Grantham added 16 for the Tigers. Grantham was 3-6 from three. Jordan Roper scored seven critical points, but added nine assists in 40 minutes of play.
Clemson started by scoring the game’s first five points, but Duke found its offensive rhythm quickly. The Blue Devils made nine of 10 shots at one point and started 6-8 from three-point range, which led to a 28-16 lead at the under-8 timeout. The Tigers came to life after a steal by Roper that led to a fastbreak dunk by Grantham, part of a 9-0 run. The run also included Grantham’s second three-pointer of the game. With the change of pace, Clemson was able to cut the Blue Devils’ lead to two heading into the half, 35-33.
The Tigers continued to be a force on the glass, outrebounding the smaller Blue Devils to start the second half. But Clemson was not able to connect on any shots, hitting only three of its first 15 shots. Down 48-40, the Tigers put together a 7-0 run punctuated by a three-point play from Grantham. He then followed with his second three-pointer of the half to tie the score at 50. Blossomgame gave the Tigers their first lead of the half with his first three-pointer of the night.
The crowd noise came to a fever pitch with 3:46 to play when Roper buried his first three-pointer of the game, making it 60-55 in Clemson’s favor. He added to it on the next possession when he tipped in a teammate’s miss. In a heartstopping finish, Blossomgame put his team up three with 13 seconds remaining on a thunderous one-handed slam. The Tigers forced a Duke miss and Avry Holmes’ two free throws provided the final margin.The Tigers return to action Saturday at 2 p.m. against Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes are ranked eighth in the latest AP poll.
Clemson vs. Duke
Clemson defeated the sixth-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday, the program’s fourth straight ACC win.
The Tigers’ win was their second straight over a ranked opponent. It is the first time Clemson has beaten top-25 teams in consecutive games since 1989 when the Tigers ended the ACC regular season with wins over Duke and Georgia Tech.
The win over Duke was Clemson’s first against a top-10 ranked team since a victory over the third-ranked Blue Devils on Feb. 4, 2009.
Wednesday’s win was Clemson’s sixth over a top-25 team under coach Brad Brownell. Five of the six have come against ACC competition, and two have been versus Duke (2014).
The win was the program’s 11th win over a top-10 Duke team.
Clemson won its second straight home game over the Blue Devils for the first time since the program won three in a row in Littlejohn Coliseum from 1995-97.
Clemson has a four-game ACC winning streak in consecutive years. Last season, the Tigers won four in a row from January 24 through February 4.
Donte Grantham scored 16, his highest output in an ACC game since a game against Syracuse on Jan. 17, 2015.
Grantham made three three-point goals. The Tigers are now 7-1 when the sophomore forward makes at least three in a game.
Landry Nnoko scored 12, the third time in his career he has posted double figures against the Blue Devils.
Nnoko produced his second double-double in Clemson’s last three games, and his second career double-double versus Duke.
Nnoko’s 13 rebounds Wednesday were a season high. He had more offensive rebounds (5) than Duke did as a team.
Nnoko blocked four shots, moving into sole possession of seventh in Clemson’s career records with 182.
Jaron Blossomgame matched a career high with eight made free throws, going perfect in eight attempts.
- Jordan Roper had nine assists against only one turnover in playing all 40 minutes. The senior guard now holds a 73-21 career assist-turnover ratio this season.
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
“Another big win for us, you know exciting in some ways because we had so many guys make plays at the end of the game to get it done. It wasn’t just one player, it was Landry Nnoko getting offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, Avry (Holmes) making free throws at the end and Jordan Roper assisting and making a big three, Donte (Grantham) with the tying three, JB (Jaron Blossomgame) with a big three to take the lead and eight for eight at the free throw line. I told our guys at halftime that we weren’t really playing that well and we were only down two, that we were a little too hyped up. We had had some defensive mistakes and our focus wasn’t as good, sometime that happens, your focus goes by the wayside because you’re just too hyped up. We missed a couple of switches, made a couple of defensive mistakes and when you play Duke that way they will make you pay. We regrouped at halftime, got our wits about us a little better and just played a pretty good second half. We really tried to guard without fouling and I thought that was key, the other big key to me was when Duke switched to all the different zones, the 1-3-1, the 2-3 in the last six minutes and we executed right out of it and scored on just about all of them right away. That shows poise, that shows quality play and really proud of our guys executing down the stretch to win it.”
On if the win over Duke validates all the success in January:
“You could say the Louisville win did some, I always say momentum is a big thing, I always try to tell y’all that momentum is important with young people and powerful in this sport. We had some negative momentum in the beginning of this season and couldn’t build any real positive vibe. That is why the Alabama loss was so painful to us, we needed a win in a real close game like that to just keep us going in the right direction and we didn’t get it, but that is what the Florida State win did for us. It told us that we are good, we beat a good team, take a deep breath, relax, go back to doing what we were doing and focus on what we do, because we have a chance to beat some good teams. We have been fortunate having some of these games at home but we played great at Syracuse. That win really helped us and our confidence is just continuing to grow, and certainly tonight we just hung in and fought. It was just a good basketball game, both teams had a couple of bad possessions, but there were enough guys making plays throughout the course of the game that you were really proud of your players, I was really proud of a bunch of different guys making plays to get the win.”
On the late free throw miss by Duke preserving the lead:
“We felt good coming into the game, certainly winning the last couple of games has done that for us, so I don’t think we came in here not thinking we could win or shouldn’t win, we are at home, we feel if we play well we are going to have a great opportunity to win, but we have to play well and in the second half we played pretty well. We didn’t play terrible in the first half we just had four or five bad defensive plays and three or four bad offensive plays and when that happens against Duke it is tough because they have a bunch of different guys that can score. Getting them in some foul trouble helped as well and them having to juggle some lineups and do some different things, that certainly helped us. Our guys took advantage and they just kept playing and playing and played through some bad play and got some hustle plays to make better plays, whether it is a stop in the transition, you don’t always win pretty you just have to find a way to get it done and we did that today.”
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
“It’s a tough loss for us and we lost to a really good team. They’ve been playing lights-out basketball. Their old, experienced and well-coached. That showed up and I thought that was the difference tonight.”
“The foul trouble… we have no answer to it. There are no alternatives so those guys have to stay out of foul trouble. Again, I’m not complaining about any calls or anything like that. We just have to stay out of foul trouble because that had a huge impact on the game. The one play at the end of the half, we just did not do a good job. It comes back to hurt you. We not only missed a shot but we gave them points and Brandon Ingram’s third foul, it’s the play of the game. We’re the ones at fault for that. That play had an impact the next 20 minutes.”
“We’re not a great team, we’re a good team and we don’t have subs. I’ve been saying that from the beginning and our guys fought like crazy, put themselves in a position to have a chance to win and they made really good plays. They’re a really good team. Jordan Roper made some really good plays, nine assists and one turnover, and Landry Nnoko was all over the boards. He gave them a lot of second chances. He’s a veteran, really good player and obviously Brad Brownell is an outstanding coach. They’re doing a good job, a really good job and they were very deserving of winning.”
On the final three-point attempt to tie the game:“The defense before that play is the main thing, you have to get a stop. They’re going to match up with our three-point shooters and give up only a two. I would have rather had the ball come to the other side and had Luke Kennard or Grayson Allen take it but I don’t fault them for that. They put good pressure on it, they played really good defense on that play.”