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LIVE BLOG: Clemson 74, Duke 47 (FINAL)

CLEMSON 74 DUKE 47 -- FINAL -- Ben Cohen checking in from 301 Flowers as Tim and Gabe make their way through the scrum on the court for post-game interviews. Some basic statistics from a rudimentary look through the media guide (feel free to correct us if we're wrong):

  • This is the worst Duke loss since 1990, when UNLV beat the Blue Devils by 30 in the national championship.
  • This is the lowest scoring output for Duke since it scored 44 points in 1995... at Clemson.

And for the record, if you haven't seen, the Cameron Crazies were unbelievably wrong about this game.

CLEMSON 70 DUKE 44 -- 3:40 SECOND HALF -- Yea, maybe it's time to go back to that National Signing Day Live Blog. I'm guessing that was more exciting.

Oh, and step aside first half, looks like we have a new champion in the contest for "Worst Half of the Year--and perhaps the last four--Played by Duke." I don't even need to put an "unless something miraculous happens..." qualifier here. This is the last you'll here from me tonight.

CLEMSON 61 DUKE 39 -- 7:26 SECOND HALF -- I believe the answer to my last question is a resounding "No."

Singler had a three negated because he was on the sideline beforehand, and Oglesby hit another three on the other end for a six-point swing and, perhaps, the final nail in the coffin.

CLEMSON 56 DUKE 39 -- 9:32 SECOND HALF -- Does a 7-1 run count as signs of life?

Either way, Jon Scheyer made a three-pointer and a nice pass, so maybe he can break out of his 2009-long slump.

Meanwhile, Booker isn't having any trouble letting Duke know how much he's dominating them tonight. He was in Lance Thomas' ear before Thomas' free throws a moment ago. And why not? Booker is backing up his 9-of-11 last meeting with a 6-of-8, 14-point performance tonight.

CLEMSON 53 DUKE 32 -- 11:41 SECOND HALF -- According to my notes, the clock has been stopped the last few possessions, which is about Duke's only chance to get back into this one. Booker is playing out of his mind, and the Blue Devils don't have enough offensive firepower with Singler in foul trouble and Scheyer scoreless to make a run at this point.

This game right now is similar to last year's loss at Miami (hey, what a coincidence, the road game after a loss at Wake!), where Duke is simply getting run off the floor. We'll see if the Devils have a comeback in them.

CLEMSON 44 DUKE 27 -- 15:29 SECOND HALF -- I don't think Coach K's idea of a good start to the second half involved Singler picking up two quickies to saddle him with four. He'll probably be on the bench until the under-12 TV timeout.

Duke isn't going to win a lot of games when Tanner Smith is outplaying Jon Scheyer. Handily.

Miles Plumlee hit a jump shot, which can be considered a big lift the way the offense has performed. The Blue Devils need Scheyer or someone else to help Henderson out on offense, and they need to slow down Booker (who's out of the game right now) on the other end.

CLEMSON 33 DUKE 21 -- HALFTIME -- The good news? Duke gets the ball to start the second half. So they got that goin' for them, which is nice.

CLEMSON 33 DUKE 21 -- HALFTIME -- I've seen LSU, VCU, Belmont, West Virginia, Maryland--you name the bad game Duke has played in the last four years, I've seen it. But this may have been the worst half of basketball the Blue Devils have put together in a long time. They're making middle-school errors against a press they've seen before (many times), and even worse, they have a scared look on their faces. There's no question that Duke was intimidated by the Tigers in the first half, and that's unacceptable for the No. 4 team in the country.

Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer are non-existent offensively. In fact, here's who's scored for Duke: Henderson (11), Thomas (6), Singler (2), Thomas (2). That's it.

What can the Blue Devils do in the second half? First, relax. They've given in to the tempo Clemson wants to play, and they're rushing themselves on the offensive end. If Duke continues to turn the ball over at this clip (11 turnovers, 2 assists), it's simply not going to get enough shot attempts to get back in the game.

Defensively, unless it's Terrence Oglesby coming around a screen, don't sell yourself out on the hedge. A few times, Thomas and Zoubek jumped way out to cut off the guard, leaving Trevor Booker an easy lane to the basket, and the help was too late.

The Blue Devils aren't out of this game, but the first few minutes of the second half are essential. Remember, when you're being pressed, you can get back into a game just as easily as it can get you out of one. Exploit the holes in the defense, and Duke can find itself right back in play. 

CLEMSON 33 DUKE 21 -- 15.8 SECONDS FIRST HALF -- That might be the longest between TV timeouts I've ever seen.

Someone might want to familiarize with this page. Have the Blue Devils not seen a full-court press before? Among the things you learn in sixth grade not to do against a press that Duke's already done tonight: try to dribble through it, attempt long cross-court passes, try to throw passes over defenders much taller than them, pick up their dribble along the sideline and midcourt line.

Duke simply cannot win a game when Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer score only two points in a half. I'm not saying this game, I'm saying "any" game. Worse yet, the two are barely even presenting themselves as options on the offensive end. The Blue Devils have only twice capitalized on Clemson's full-court aggressiveness, and the rest of their offense has been giving it to Gerald Henderson and getting out of the way.

CLEMSON 21 DUKE 15 -- 7:39 FIRST HALF -- My (very) unofficial count has the Blue Devils with six turnovers right now, and several have led to easy Clemson baskets. No one is moving offensively. If the Tigers play the man-to-man/1-2-2 press (it looks like man but the wings pinch up to trap in the corner), Smith should continue to try to split it and create open looks in the corner for Singler as he did two possessions ago.

Defensively, the Blue Devils don't have an answer for Trevor Booker right now, who has eight points and looks supremely confident going up against a team he has torched in the past. Duke is over-hedging on some screens, giving Booker easy rolls to the basket for dunks.

P.S. One of the refs is Mike Kitts, who made the timing mistake two seasons ago to help Duke beat Clemson at the buzzer. Don't let Purnell's Posse know.

CLEMSON 15 DUKE 13 -- 11:46 FIRST HALF -- The Clemson fans aren't happy with the official's last few calls, and I can't say I blame them. Both times they had a Blue Devil trapped in a corner and got whistled.

The last few minutes have seen a lineup of Paulus, Henderson, McClure, Thomas and Zoubek--in other words, one to seriously challenge my notion that this would be a "high-scoring" contest. At the same time, Henderson (7) and Thomas (6) have all of Duke's points right now.

Both teams are struggling against the pressure defense, finding themselves trapped and having trouble on the inbounds. Look for both to run backdoor cuts--kind of like the one K.C. Rivers used to burn Henderson a few possessions ago.

CLEMSON 11 DUKE 9 -- 14:23 FIRST HALF -- Duke is 2-for-5 right now handling the press, and none of its three turnovers were excusable. Singler is panicking on the inbounds, and Smith is not presenting himself as an option.

Singler doesn't look comfortable at all, perhaps remembering his 1-for-9 nightmare against the Tigers last year in the ACC Tournament.

Henderson is the guy again on offense, and he's the only Blue Devil who looks poised in this atmosphere, which is amplified by the steepness (is that a word?) of the student sections right behind each basket.

It must be a big night: Oliver Purnell's dusted off the orange jacket with navy/purple pants. I used to drive a car the color of those pants, so I know, it's not cool.

PREGAME: Move over, National Signing Day Live Blog! We're comin' to you live from Littlejohn Coliseum (from the windows to the wall) in brisk Clemson, SC (where it's "in season, EVERY season").

LJC, as I've decided to colloquially call it the rest of the evening, is hopping right now as the Tigers just came out to "Let It Rock." The student section behind the left basket is full and loud, although some empty seats at the top of the right side are empty, betraying the game's "sold out" status.

The "best" sign, so far? "Even KrzyzewSki Praises PurNell." Am I supposed to be insulted? That's just complimentary of the Duke program.

We're at a spacious press row courtside by the left basket in the assymetrical LJC, with more seats behind us than in front of us. Just in case you're wondering, Oliver Purnell's Posse isn't that creative when it comes to greeting the Blue Devils, settling for loud "Boos"--the loudest for one Mike Krzyzewski, of course.


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