Breaking down Duke v. Clemson

A look at the ACC Quarterfinal matchup between Duke and Clemson. The game will begin around 9PM and will be broadcast via ESPN2.

Duke vs. Clemson
Mar. 14 at 9 pm
Greensboro Coliseum


Overall Record 24-7 (.774) 20-11 (.645)
Location Record 3-2 (.600) on neutral 3-1 (.750) on neutral
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 79.8 (21) 76.2 (92) 67.1 (323) 57.8 (3)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 1.9 (128) 2.7 (104)
7.1 (68) 4.8 (308)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
14.8 (46) 10.2 (323)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 46.5 (65) 41.6 (296)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 39.3 (20) 30.5 (285)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank) 45.1 (247) 39.6 (24)
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #6 #NR
AP Poll
#7 #NR


7 (85.9) 54 (73.2)
Point Guard

PG: Quinn Cook (6-2, 180, Jr.) vs. Rod Hall (6-1, 210, Jr.)

Hall has been steady for Clemson over the last month. Since February 18th he's averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game as his team has gone 5-2 and nearly assured itself of a place in the NCAA Tournament. The first matchup saw the junior Blue Devil guard acquit himself well in every aspect of the game aside from shooting (3-of-14). Cook finished the game with eight points, seven assists, and three steals against just one turnover, but over the last few weeks he's been a roller coaster when it comes to performance, body language, and overall play. In March you need a steady hand at the point guard position. If Cook regains his form and runs the team as he's proven capable throughout the year, Duke will be a tough out in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. Maybe even a title contender. We're picking Cook to play his best basketball when the bright lights come on, but Hall will provide a tough test.

Shooting Guard

SG: Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 190, So.) vs. Damarcus Harrison (6-4, 205, Jr.)

Harrison didn't factor into the first game all that much, scoring just four point. At that time, however, he didn't really factor into the Clemson attack either. In mid-February, however, he broke into the starting lineup and has scored in double figures in six of the last seven contests. In those seven contests he's shooting 43.5 percent from the field. Against Georgia Tech on Thursday night he put together an impressive stat-line of 12 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Meanwhile, Sulaimon has overcome his midseason struggles and firmly planted a flag as the starting scoring guard for Duke. Clemson got a chance to see the sophomore when he was slumping as Rasheed scored two points and committed four fouls in 12 minutes in the first matchup. Over the last three games, however, Sulaimon has averaged 13 points 3.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and hit 37 percent of his perimeter looks. Following the first Clemson game, he has scored in double figures in 11 of 15 contests.

Small Forward

SF: Rodney Hood (6-8, 215, So.) vs. K.J. McDaniels (6-6, 200, Jr.)

This is the most competitive matchup on the floor, with both players being among the best at their position in the country. Hood finished the season averaging 16.5 points and 4.0 rebounds. He scored 20 or more points 10 times, and has been Duke's best player on the court in a number of games this season. However, McDaniels is a certified stat sheet stuffer. The junior torched Duke in the first matchup for 24 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Over his last four games McDaniels is averaging 20.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.3 assists. If the Blue Devils can limit McDaniels, they win. Period.

Power Forward

PF: Jabari Parker (6-8, 240, Fr.) vs. Jaron Blossomgame (6-7, 215, Fr.)

Blossomgame plays a utility role for Clemson, getting buckets around the basket and rebounding well (averaging seven per game over last five). He's a blue collar player, but he's facing the ACC's most talented player in Parker. Still, Parker will need to certain up his game over the first performance when Blossomgame recorded his best performance of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds compared to Parker's 15 and 7. Look for Parker to win this battle (and several more) as Duke progresses through the month. If he doesn't then Duke's likely not moving forward regardless of the event.


C: Amile Jefferson (6-9, 215, So.) vs. Landry Nnoko (6-10, 250, So.)

Jefferson will once again give up significant size in his individual matchup. Nnoko, like most of the Clemson front line, had a field day against Duke in Death Valley. Duke's interior defense was so bad that it allowed the 6-10, 250 pound center to record his only double-double in conference play (10 points and 13 boards). Nnoko not only won his matchup against Jefferson, he kept the Duke sophomore off the defensive class completely. Jefferson did manage six offensive boards, but was largely ineffective.


Bench: In an overtime game against Georgia Tech, the tightening of the Tiger rotation was evident. Only three players played eight or more minutes led by former starting guard Jordan Roper who logged 18 minutes. Clemson will also lean on reserve contributions from forward Austin Ajukwa and guard Adonis Filer. Meanwhile, Duke has a stable of options off the bench. We think Quinn Cook will get the primary minutes at point guard, but Tyler Thornton will be the first guard off the bench (and may even start). Duke will also hope for the annual hot March performance from Andre Dawkins. In the post it'll be up to Marshall Plumlee, who didn't play much against North Carolina in Cameron, but the seven footer has come on in a big way over the last month.

Coaching: Mike Krzyzewski vs. Brad Brownell

Brownell has done a fantastic job with his roster this season, getting the Tigers from a preseason also ran list to, likely, an NCAA Tournament berth. A win against Duke will likely finalize that, and he'll have his team ready to go. That said, Coach K is, well, Coach K. The all-time wins leader excels in March and seems to have settled on his lineup and rotation (though we'd like to see more Plumlee, and maybe the return of the hockey line substitution patterns with the number of games to be played).


77 68
Prediction: Duke was in complete control against the Tigers in a very tough place to play. And then, as happened far too often this season, the wheels began to falter and then came all the way off as the Tigers out-scored Duke 41-22 after halftime. The return contest at Cameron wasn't on the schedule, so Duke will have to settle for a chance at revenge (not to mention a place in Saturday's semifinal round) in Greensboro. We see it happening.

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