Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off yet another thrilling Tobacco Road rivalry game, the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils get right back to work, as they play host to the Clemson Tigers in an ACC affair at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils met up with archrival North Carolina on Wednesday in Durham and when the smoke cleared, it was Duke that prevailed, 92-90 in overtime. The win was the sixth straight for the Blue Devils, who sit at 10-3 in the ACC, good for third-place in the conference standings, behind Virginia (12-1) and Notre Dame (11-3).
Brad Brownell's Tigers are sitting at 15-11 overall, but are just 7-7 in conference play thanks to losses in three of the last four games. Clemson is coming off a 63-52 road loss at Georgia Tech and is now just 3-5 in true road games this season.
Duke holds a huge 106-30 advantage in the all-time series with Clemson. Clemson hasn't won a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995, a string of 15 consecutive losses to Duke in Durham.
Clemson was within two points of Georgia Tech on the road on Monday, but the Yellow Jackets came out of the break and shot 50 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to ease by the Tigers and into the win column. Clemson struggled offensively in the loss, converting just 36.4 percent from the floor overall, while also getting outrebounded 38-29 at the McCamish Pavilion.Jaron Blossomgame and Austin Ajukwa led the way with 10 points apiece for Clemson, which got destroyed in the paint, outscored by Tech inside, 40-20.
The poor offensive performance by Clemson has been a familiar theme this season, as the team has had to overcome inconsistencies at that end of the floor. The Tigers are averaging just 62.2 ppg on a rather bland .410 shooting. They have remained competitive thanks to strong defensive play that has limited the opposition to just 60.1 ppg on under 40-percent efficiency (.391). Blossomgame has elevated his play in his sophomore season and currently leads the team in both scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg).Scoring depth has been scarce at times, as Donte Grantham (9.1 ppg) and Rod Hall (8.7 ppg) represent the best of the rest.
A lack of scoring depth is not something Duke has to worry about. The Blue Devils are one of the nation's top offensive squads, averaging 80.7 ppg (fourth in the country) on .497 shooting (fifth in the country). It starts with freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor. The 6-11 youngster has solidified his spot as the top NBA Draft prospect this season. Okafor is second in the nation in field-goal percentage (.661), fourth in the ACC in scoring (17.9 ppg) and third in the ACC in rebounding (9.4 rpg). Senior guard Quinn Cook pours in 15.1 ppg and is a perfect complement with his long-range acumen (71 3- pointers). Freshmen Tyus Jones (11.7 ppg, 5.4 apg) and Justise Winslow (11.5 ppg) have made immediate impacts in Durham as well.
The showdown with the Tar Heels this week lived up to all the hype that the rivalry comes with, as there were big leads by both teams, runs to get back into the game, finally ending in a two-point decision in overtime. Duke came out on top as Cook and Jones erupted for 22 points each to pace the team. Winslow poured in 16 points, Amile Jefferson notched 13 points and six blocks, while Okafor recorded yet another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. In all, Duke shot 50.8 percent from the floor, including a sizzling 10-of-16 from behind the arc.