Dominant 2nd Half D Lifts Duke Over Clemson

Three true road tests. Three losses. The last by double figures to an unranked opponent that drew criticism from their head coach for the lack of defensive effort. In order to reverse the trend Duke would need to win in the gym they were summarily run out of a season ago. Thankfully, they brought along Nolan Smith.

The junior guard scored a game high 22 points to help the Blue Devils end their streak of road futility while also erasing memories of last year's 27 point disaster in Littlejohn Coliseum.

In that game the Tiger defense held Duke to 31 percent shooting from the field while forcing 16 turnovers as Clemson raced to a 30-12 halftime advantage. It all added up to the Blue Devils' worst loss in nearly 20 years.

For the first 20 minutes, the offensive struggles seemed all too familiar with Duke committing as many turnovers as made field goals in the opening half. The major difference from a year ago, however, was the defensive effort which frustrated the every Tiger aside from Trevor Booker. The burly senior finished 5-of-7 from the field, but the rest of his team shot just 3-of-15 and committed 11 turnovers to leave the teams knotted at 23.

With the crowd fired up Duke opened the second half with a 6-0 spurt before Clemson would draw within one at 29-28. From there the Blue Devils' big three of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and especially Smith would take over and give Duke a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Singler and Smith hit back to back threes before Singler would hit a running in the lane to push the lead to seven. Smith would then score the game's next six points to push the lead to 13 at 43-30. The Tigers would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Singler finished with 12 points while playing the entire game. Likewise with Scheyer who added 11 points and three assists while playing all 40 minutes.

The fourth starter, Lance Thomas, logged his best game of the year by scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Sophomore Miles Plumlee was the only Duke post player to score in the game - scoring on a follow-up dunk - but did collect a game high eight rebounds.

The win moves the Blue Devils to 4-2 in the ACC and 16-3 on the season. Duke will home to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night against Florida State before heading to Washington next weekend for a non-conference matchup with Georgetown.

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