CLEMSON, S.C.—Following his big outings in wins against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, senior Grayson Allen has made his mark all over a back-and-forth contest Sunday afternoon.
Through 20 minutes of play from Littlejohn Coliseum, No. 12 Duke leads No. 11 Clemson 35-34 in a crucial conference contest behind 17 first-half points from Grayson Allen. Neither team led by more than six points in the opening half and both sides struggled through various stretches of sluggish play.
The Blue Devils got off to a slow start and did not hit their first shot from the field until an Allen triple at the 14:54 mark. Although Duke looked to play through freshman Wendell Carter Jr. early in the game, the Tigers aggressively denied entry passes and warded off the paint from penetration. Carter finished the first half with just two points on a pair of late free throws and had a minimal impact on offense.
But Clemson allowed the Blue Devils to stay in the game due to its inability to defend without fouling. Duke connected on its first 11 free-throws and Allen, in particular, lived at the foul line with a perfect 7-of-7 mark. Allen was able to find his stroke from beyond the arc once again and hit a pair of triples.
After Clemson stretched its lead to 25-21 with seven minutes remaining in the half, Duke’s captain began to take control of the game with a 7-0 run of his own that was punctuated by a thunderous transition slam. Only one Blue Devil outside of Allen finished the half with more than three points.
Playing without Shelton Mitchell—who suffered a concussion in the Tigers' loss to Florida State—and already without senior Donte Grantham, Clemson went to a score by committee approach and used strong ball movement to beat the Blue Devil zone. The Tigers assisted on 11 of their 13 made field goals. Forward Mark Donnal led the way for the home team with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting off the bench.
Here are a few observations from the first half:
- Head coach Mike Krzyzewski opted to start sophomore Javin DeLaurier in place of Marques Bolden against the smaller Tigers lineup with Marvin Bagley III out again due to a knee sprain.
- Krzyzewski went deeper into his rotation Sunday afternoon, as Alex O’Connell and Jack White also saw time on the floor.
- White got on the scoreboard with a rare blow-by past a defender for an easy dunk.
- Freshman Aamir Simms ignited a mostly tame Clemson crowd with a posterizing dunk on DeLaurier. Simms finished the half with eight points and helped battle Duke’s bigs down low.
- Allen was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul when he grabbed Marcquise Reed’s jersey to prevent an easy fast-break opportunity.