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Duke edges past Clemson, advances in ACC Tournament with 79-72 win

March 8, 2017 GMT

FINAL. Clemson: 72, Duke: 79.

Duke edged out the 79-72 win against Clemson in its first game of the 2017 ACC Tournament. Luke Kennard score 17 second-half points as part of his 20. Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson also scored 20 points for the Blue Devils (24-8, 12-7 ACC). Mike Krzyzewski’s team will play Louisville in Thursday’s afternoon game.

3:19, 2H. Clemson: 63, Duke: 69.

Clemson sank four of its last five attempted shots to close within six points of Duke by the final media timeout of the game. While four of Duke’s starting five (Luke Kennard, Frank Jackson, Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson) are in double-digit scoring, Grayson Allen is scoreless with three fouls in his 12 minutes of play.

7:59, 2H. Clemson: 49, Duke: 62.

9:05, 2H. Clemson: 47, Duke: 60.

Duke turned a tie ballgame into a double-digit lead by the midway point of the second half against Clemson and the Tigers took a timeout to try and regroup.

11:55, 2H. Clemson: 45, Duke: 51.

Clemson has managed just four made shots to Duke’s eight in the second half as the Blue Devils stay in control.

15:34, 2H. Clemson: 37, Duke: 44.

END 1st Half. Clemson: 33, Duke: 33.

Jaron Blossomgame leads Clemson and all players with 10 points at halftime, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson each have nine for Duke. The Blue Devils shot 44.8 percent from the floor and 25 percent from behind the arc and the Tigers shot 36.4 percent from the floor and made just 1-of-6 three-pointers.

3:06, 1H. Clemson: 27, Duke: 25.

Clemson took its first lead on a steal and breakaway by Gabe DeVoe with about three and a half minutes left in the first half. Duke’s 11 team fouls are a big factor in Clemson’s lead. The Tigers 10-3 run that gave them the lead came from eight free throws -- including two made after Grayson Allen was issued a technical foul.

7:40, 1H. Clemson: 15, Duke: 18.

Clemson fouled Matt Jones on a fast break after a steal to send the game to its third break. The turnover is the Tigers’ sixth of the game. Six players have already scored for the even-attacking Blue Devils. Jayson Tatum leads the team and game with five points.

11:57, 1H. Clemson: 9, Duke: 13.

The Clemson Tigers hit their first FG after the first media timeout but are just 3-for-9 from the field and have turned the ball over five times

15:51, 1H. Clemson: 3, Duke: 9.

Duke opened the game with a 7-1 run as Clemson went scoreless on six straight possessions. The Tigers’ only points before the first media timeout are from FTs. Frank Jackson got another start in place of Grayson Allen and the freshman scored the first basket of the game with a dunk off a swift steal.

PREGAME

Duke’s quest for its first ACC tournament championship since 2011 begins Wednesday (2 p.m., WRAL-TV) in a second-round matchup with Clemson.

For the No. 14 Blue Devils (23-8) to do so, they will have to win four games in four days – something no team has accomplished in the conference tournament.

Clemson (17-14) advanced with a 75-61 win over North Carolina State in the first round on Tuesday at the Barclays Center. It was a rare double-digit victory this season for the Tigers, who have lost 10 games by six points or less.

“It’s not easy to come back to practice every week when you’re losing one-point games, two-point games, one-point games in a variety of ways,” remarked Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “Some of the reason for that is the character of the guys I coach. I have great guys on my team. They represent us phenomenally both on and off the court. They just won’t give in.

“So, yes, it’s nice to win a game like this. But I’ve been extremely proud of this team on nights when we lost. When you coach in this league, you can play extremely well and lose because the teams are so good.”

Clemson, the 12th seed, dominated the Wolfpack in the lane, scoring 40 points in the paint. The Tigers reeled off 21 points off 15 North Carolina State turnovers, holding star freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. to 3-of-12 shooting and seven points in 36 minutes.

The Tigers need a win over a quality opponent like Duke to improve their chances of landing NCAA Tournament bid.

Duke, seeded fifth, has lost three of its last four games, but the Blue Devils haven’t lost their first game in the ACC tournament in any of the past three seasons.

The Tigers have won three straight, after losing six of seven, including a 64-62 decision to Duke on Feb. 11. Jaron Blossomgame and Shelton Mitchell carried the Tigers against North Carolina State, shooting a combined 17 for 30 while the rest of the team was 12 for 38.

Clemson received 10 points from Elijah Thomas in 16 minutes off the bench. The Tigers’ role players will be critical for Clemson to score the upset.

Duke’s depth will also come into play if it intends to run the table to the title. Mercurial guard Grayson Allen has been coming off the bench lately due to a left ankle injury, with freshman Frank Jackson taking over the starting job. If that rotation remains, Allen would be a force off the bench this week.

Sophomore guard Luke Kennard has emerged as the ACC’s leading scorer, averaging 20.1 points per game. The All-ACC first team member has made at least one 3-pointer in an ACC-best 34 straight games, tying for the 15th longest streak in league history.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski hopes that a deep run in the tournament will give his Blue Devils some momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.

“We are getting better,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve got to keep going. We’ll try to do a great job up in Brooklyn and then be ready for the big tournament the week after.”