Duke Drops Clemson, 87-77

It wasn't the easy victory that many expected, but top ranked Duke remained undefeated on the season with an 87-77 victory over Clemson on Saturday in Littlejohn Coliseum thanks to the combined efforts of senior captains J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.

J.J. Redick scored a game high 34 points while Shelden Williams added 17 points and 11 rebounds to keep the Blue Devils perfect on the season. Duke improves to 16-0 and has now won a staggering 19 straight over Clemson. The 16 straight victories are the best start to a season since the 1991-1992 edition stormed out to 17 consecutive victories before falling to North Carolina.

But it wasn't easy as the Tigers proved to be very game, never allowed Duke to lead by more than 12 throughout the contest and coming within striking distance for much of regulation.

Clemson may have had a chance to pull the upset, but Oliver Purnell's team missed 15-of-21 free throw attempts (29%), which proved to be the difference in the game.

With the offensive game struggling, Duke relied heavily on Redick, who scored 17 points in each half to keep the Tigers at bay. Perhaps the only think the All-American didn't do, was what's he's proven to be the best of all time at: hitting free throws. In fact Redick missed a career high four free throws in 16 attempts.

With his running mate providing his usual brilliance, Williams got into the act after halftime, scoring several key buckets down the stretch to record yet another double-double – his eight of the season.

The Tigers' upset bid was led by Vernon Hamilton who hit a career best 31 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field. He surpassed his previous career mark of 21 points, which he set in the last game against Wake Forest.

After building a seemingly comfortable 11 point cushion down the stretch, Duke watched the Tigers claw back to within five at 76-71. However, the full court pressure was broken by Redick who threw a halfcourt pass to Sean Dockery under the goal to push the lead back to seven. Clemson would never seriously challenge the rest of the way.

Dockery finished with 10 points and four steals on the night, joining fellow senior Lee Melchionni and freshman Greg Paulus in double figures. Paulus added eight assists against just three turnovers.

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