Duke responded to its first loss of the season with a 29-point win against Albany. After suffering its first ACC home loss in nearly six years Sunday against Notre Dame, the Blue Devils have another chance to bounce back.
No. 5 Duke will have the opportunity to rebound when it hits the road to face Clemson Thursday at Littlejohn Coliseum at 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils gave up 40 points in transition offense in an 88-67 loss to the No. 2 Fighting Irish. Notre Dame held Duke to a field-goal percentage of 39.1, a season low.
“We’ve been focusing on transition defense, broken-play defense and contesting and locating shooters in practice,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
The Tigers (11-12, 3-6 in the ACC) are also using the matchup as an opportunity to rebound from their recent struggles. Virginia handed Clemson an 80-43 defeat Saturday—the Tigers’ worst loss of the season. In the loss, Clemson shot just 15-of-49 from the field for a field-goal percentage of 30.6 and turned the ball over 22 times.
“We did not compete in that game,” Clemson head coach Audra Smith said. “We got down early and hung our heads after that. We didn’t fight back as we normally have. We didn’t play with enough energy or effort, and teams are going to take advantage of that. They’re going to score and keep pounding you.”
The Tigers’ biggest offensive threat is Nikki Dixon, who is averaging 14.4 points per game. The junior guard, who is the only player on the team averaging in double figures, has made 46.2 percent of her shots from the field.
“Clemson is a greatly improved team,” McCallie said. “Their star player, Dixon, has improved. They have great shooters in Kelly Gramlich and Jordan Gaillard, and their post players have played their role.”
The Tigers’ improvement showed in a 60-52 win against Miami Jan. 26 and an 80-79 overtime victory against Georgia Tech Jan. 30. Just three weeks before, Georgia Tech routed Clemson 89-68 in the first matchup of the season between the two teams.
Duke (21-2, 8-1) boasts a more balanced offense than Clemson, with four Blue Devils averaging more than 12 points per game. Tricia Liston leads the way at 17.5 points per contest. The senior, who scored a team-high 23 points against Notre Dame, was the sole reason that Duke managed to keep pace with the Fighting Irish in the opening half of the game.
“We need to play aggressive, tenacious defense and limit [Duke’s] offensive possessions,” Smith said. “We want to have less turnovers which is an extension of also wanting to limit [Duke’s] transition buckets.”
Duke will have a weekend of rest before returning to Cameron Indoor Stadium Monday night for a rivalry matchup against North Carolina.