Duke stumbles late at Clemson

CLEMSON, SC – Duke is going to have a week to dwell on a game that showed how much further it has to go when it comes to handling physicality and making game-winning plays late.

The Blue Devils were outmuscled by the host Clemson in the Tigers’ 72-64 win on Saturday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

“We made some careless passes, we weren’t getting any shots off,” said the freshman Kyle Filipowski, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils. “I think we’ve just got to stay a little more poised in that situation.”

Duke (13-5, 4-3 ACC) had one field goal in the game’s last 7½ minutes — a put-back by Mark Mitchell with 5:11 left — and that magnified how loose the Blue Devils can get with the ball.

Officially, there were four turnovers in that span. Unofficially, it felt like more — and probably should’ve been, if not for a few favorable rulings of missed shots on comics and such.

“They were better than us in just about everything in the last four minutes,” he said Ryan Young, who had 10 points. “Offensively, they got to the rim, they got rebounds when they needed to and they made us take tough shots.”

Duke’s shooting in the second half was particularly troublesome; the Blue Devils were 10-for-33, including a 0-for-12 mark on 3s.

“They’re physical, their pick-and-roll defense is as good as anybody that we’ve played,” coach Jon Scheyer said. “It’s, for us, learning how to play through that. You’re going to play really good defenses and down the stretch, knowing how to manufacture points for each other.

“It’s not going to be as much on your own, getting one. We’re still learning that.”

While Duke is still gathering lessons 18 games into the season, the Tigers’ veteran team that beat the Blue Devils took a stranglehold on the ACC.

Clemson (15-3, 7-0) tacked on another game to its best-ever start to conference play and ran its home winning streak to 13 games. Every other team in the league has at least two league losses.

It wasn’t without Duke through the middle portion of this game.

Duke’s four-point halftime lead became eight, at 44-36, after the first media timeout of the second half. The few minutes that followed are what set the stage for a back-and-forth finish.

Clemson scored the next eight points to tie the game at 44-44, with Duke’s offense turtling and prompting a timeout by Scheyer.

“It was all of us … just making some careless passes that we’ve made before in the past but have gotten better with,” Filipowski said. “I think it’s just internally — that’s easier to fix than just having issues on the road with every school.

“Just have to watch the film, see where we gave up opportunities for ourselves and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Duke’s lead was 54-51 when Tyrese Proctor made a driving shot with 7:57 left. From there, Clemson outscored the Blue Devils 21-10 to end the game.

Brevin Galloway hit the go-ahead 3-pointer about a minute and a half after Proctor’s shot. That was one of only three 3-pointers for Clemson, which matched a season-low.

“They executed down the stretch better than we did,” Scheyer said. “They got to our rim. … If you were to tell me they were going to have three 3s and we’d have lost, no way. But on the flip side, they really got to our paint and got to our rim. That’s something we’ve got to address.”

Duke has a week to find the solution; the Blue Devils don’t play again until next Saturday, when Miami visits Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke found its groove offensively with about seven minutes left in the first half; specifically, that meant Proctor found his groove.

Proctor completed a three-point play and drilled a 3 on back-to-back possessions in less than a minute, and added another 3 during a 15-2 run. He also had a lob to Derek Lively II for a dunk in that run, which turned a 20-15 deficit into a 30-22 lead.

Clemson narrowed the gap from there, scoring eight of the next 10 points. Jaylen Blakes’ two free throws gave Duke a four-point lead at halftime.

“Their size is a major factor in the game,” said the Clemson coach Brad Brownell, who won the 400th game of his career. “I thought my team early in the game was a little amped up.”

Duke neutralized Hunter Tyson early — Clemson’s forward entered with double-doubles in five straight games, but did not score in the first half.

The problem was Tyson’s frontcourt partner PJ Hall.

The third-year center poured in 18 first-half points, including one 3-pointer after he’d done damage inside. Hall finished with a game-high 26 points; that’s also a season-high for him, and he took time afterward to compare the atmosphere for Duke’s 82-64 win in this building late last season compared to Saturday’s sold-out crowd, which stormed the court at the buzzer.

“We got in our own arena, (chants of) ‘Let’s go Duke,'” Hall said. “To shove it back in their face, that felt good.”

This was these teams’ only scheduled meeting of the season.

TIP-INS: Duke was without Jeremy Roach for the third straight game as he recovers from a toe injury he initially suffered Nov. 27, and aggravated a couple of weeks ago. … Clemson had little presence on the offensive rebounding side of things, but had four in the first eight minutes. The Tigers didn’t have another for the rest of the first half, and then got two in the 8-0 run that tied the game at 44-44. … Proctor scored a season-high 17 points, building on his 14-point game against Pitt earlier in the week.

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