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Telling The Story: Duke-Clemson

It was the Blue Devils' worst loss since 1990 and lowest scoring output since 1995, when they posted 44 points at Clemson, and while the late start might not have changed the Blue Devils' effort, it may have affected reporters, battling deadline more than ever.

Before you read what the others are writing, make sure you check out The Chronicle's game story and analysis first.

The Herald-Sun's Bryan Strickland's lede makes you feel like you were staring at the student section in Littlejohn:

As Duke sophomore Kyle Singler squared up for a free throw early in the second half of Wednesday night's game at Clemson, hundreds of students behind the basket raised their hands above their heads and swayed back and forth, trying to distract Singler with the illusion of a orange, oscillating wall.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the moving orange wall on the Littlejohn Coliseum court was no illusion.

Clemson's defense did what Duke's so often does, smothering the Blue Devils for the length of the court and the length of the game to claim a 74-47 victory.

The (Raleigh) News & Observer didn't send Ken Tysiac, who leads three reporters on the Duke beat, down to Clemson, opting instead to use Ron Green Jr., who normally writes for its McClatchy sister paper, The Charlotte Observer. Green gives Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell the lead quote, even though Mike Krzyzewski offered plenty of strong statements and Dave McClure and Gerald Henderson, the only two Duke players made available to the media, were similarly disgraced:

When it was all over, when the roars had finally begun to die inside Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday night after 10th-ranked Clemson's shocking 74-47 victory over fourth-ranked Duke Wednesday night, the perspectives were as far apart as the final margin.

"Certainly, I'm surprised we won by this margin," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said after handing the Blue Devils their worst loss since their 30-point loss to UNLV in the 1990 NCAA championship game.

The Winston-Salem Journal's John Delong made good use of Duke's media guide, giving readers the noteworthy numbers they were looking for. This part of the story rang true for me, as I sat in 301 Flowers scouring the media guide for the last time Duke lost by more than 27 points or the last time Duke's scoring output began with a 4:

Clemson routed the Blue Devils 74-47 at Littlejohn Coliseum in a blowout that prompted a quick search of the record books.

It was Duke's worst loss since its 103-73 loss to UNLV in the 1990 national-championship game, and Duke's worst loss to Clemson since a 100-66 loss here in 1975.

Duke's 47 points were the fewest in 14 years, since a 51-44 loss to Clemson in 1995.

Enough from the Duke perspective, though. How did the Clemson media handle the program's biggest win in who knows how long? Appropriately, The (Anderson) Independent Mail's Brad Senkiw noted that the Tigers may have been confident, but not even they could have expected a 27-point win:

You knew they had a chance.

You knew they had confidence.

You knew No. 10 Clemson could beat No. 4 Duke Wednesday night, provided the right pieces fell into place and the Tigers played much better than they did against previous top-5 foes North Carolina and Wake Forest.

But if you thought Clemson would paste the Blue Devils as badly as it did before a raucous, sold-out Littlejohn Coliseum crowd of 10,000, well, you’re kidding yourself.

Senkiw also filed an analysis sidebar—impressive, given the 9 p.m tip—that focused on Clemson's defense putting the brakes on Gerald Henderson. Not sure I buy that argument completely. Henderson scored a team-high 16 points, and him not scoring, say, 25 was certainly not the reason the Tigers won. If there's a story about Clemson shutting a player (or two) down, it could have been about Kyle Singler or Jon Scheyer's disappearing acts.

And to give the Clemson press the last word—their team deserves it, at least—The State's Paul Strelow writes that Clemson's dominance should send a message to the rest of the ACC:

Junior forward Trevor Booker beat his chest as he stomped down the floor, the Clemson faithful reveling in the second-half pageantry engulfing Littlejohn Coliseum.

When the Tigers stunned Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals a year ago, guard K.C. Rivers described it as a defining moment in the program’s rebirth.

Tenth-ranked Clemson proved the merit of Rivers’ statement with a 74-47 triumph against the No. 4 Blue Devils in front a raucous capacity crowd Wednesday night.

“I know a lot of people saw this game and know we’re for real now,” Booker said.


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