Duke travels south to take on Tigers

Duke looks to take care of business against an ACC bottom feeder tonight when it faces Clemson to collect its twelfth straight victory against unranked opponents.

The Blue Devils (18-6, 7-2 in the ACC) enter the contest on a two-game win streak on the road and in conference play. The Tigers, meanwhile, have won just one of their last five games and have notched just three conference wins.

Despite boasting the second-lowest overall winning percentage in the ACC, Clemson (10-14, 3-6) still commands Duke's undivided attention.

"Every game has equal value. and so for us it's Clemson," head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "That's what we're going to focus on and that's the only thing we put into our heads."

The Tigers' play, however, has hardly been noteworthy. Clemson ranks eleventh of twelfth in the conference in points scored and dead last in field goal percentage. Combined with Duke's ACC-leading scoring defense, the Tigers could have some trouble putting points on the scoreboard.

Clemson will try to pose problems for the Blue Devils on offense by utilizing one of Duke's own tactics---the fullcourt press. McCallie stressed the importance of running hard at the Tigers and playing physical basketball for the duration of the game.

"I'd like to see us really attack their pressure," McCallie said. "Clemson will give you a chance to make great plays because they will press you, and they will fall back into their zone. We have a real opportunity to create assists, create offense and play off the dribble."

Playing an up-tempo game could propel the Blue Devils out of their recent offensive struggles. Duke has shot a collective 38.6 percent from the field in its last three contests, significantly below the team's 42.2 percent mark from the floor for the season.

The Blue Devils hope to rekindle some of the offensive magic that prevailed during the pair's last meeting, a 105-53 drubbing of the Tigers at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Unfortunately, the team has had difficulty finding a rhythm on offense this season with three different guards-freshman Jasmine Thomas, junior Abby Waner and senior Wanisha Smith-running the point, two of whom are playing out of position.

Because of the shuffling in the backcourt, Duke's post players have stepped up to provide consistency on offense. With many of the Blue Devil guards mired in shooting struggles, the team's interior play will key the scoring attack.

The bigs also will be relied upon to crash the boards to create second-chance opportunities on offense and prevent transition buckets by Clemson. Duke pulls down 43.7 rebounds a game in conference play-second in the ACC- to the Tigers' 37.8, and the rebounding advantage on both ends of the floor will be critical in what figures to be a fast-paced game.

While it would be easy to look past Clemson and ahead to Sunday's clash with Maryland, McCallie and the players believe that they are focused on their current opponent.

"We play in a conference, the ACC, where every team is athletic, quick, and every team is competitive," sophomore Keturah Jackson said. "We know that we can't overlook any teams in this conference and we have to take it one game at a time."


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