Tigers lose game to Blue Devils; possibly Stitt for Tuesday


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – If the Clemson Tigers are to realize some of their preseason goals – strong finish in the ACC, NCAA tournament appearance and win – another scorer besides Trevor Booker is going to have to step up.

Booker scored 22 points but was the only offensive bright spot for the Tigers as the 7th-ranked Blue Devils (16-3, 4-2 ACC) used a 14-2 second half run to gain a 13-point lead and held on a for a 60-47 victory over the 17-ranked Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday evening, dropping the Tigers (15-5, 3-3) to .500 in the ACC.

“I give Duke all the credit in the world for their defense,” Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. “I didn’t like our offensive approach. We had too many dry periods. Our defense was great in the first half, but the beginning of the second half killed us. We turned it over too many times. We got the ball to Trevor Booker, but I don’t think we got it to him enough.”

Booker was 10-for-14 from the field, but the rest of the Tigers were just 8-for-34 as Clemson matched the 47 points the Blue Devils scored in last season’s blowout Clemson win. It was Clemson's fewest points at home since a 52-47 loss to Maryland on Jan. 25, 2003.

Now, it appears that point guard Demontez Stitt, who was the only other Clemson player in double figures with 10 points but has been bothered by a sore ankle for a week, will miss at least Tuesday’s road game against Boston College and possibly more.

Stitt said after the game that he played at about “50 percent” and told the trainer afterwards that he felt like he needed to sit out at least the Tigers’ next game.

The teams played the first half at an almost frenetic pace, but the results of the up-and-down game didn’t show on the scoreboard as the teams battled to a 23-all tie. In the half, each team committed 11 turnovers, with the Blue Devils shooting just over 40 percent and the Tigers just over 36 percent.

The Blue Devils opened the second half and made it look almost too easy, overcoming the careless turnovers of the first 20 minutes to score six straight points to open the second half. After Clemson cut the lead to 29-28, guard Nolan Smith helped the Blue Devils take control, especially with Clemson committing turnovers on five of its first nine second half possessions.

Kyle Singler started the run with a 3-pointer, then Smith added another from long range. After Singler's driving basket, Smith scored the next six points to put Duke ahead by 13. Smith led the Blue Devils with 22 points, but was one of four Duke players in double figures. Duke also only turned the ball over two times in the second half.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Devil plan was to cover Booker with only one defender, in effect cutting down his passing lanes and forcing Clemson to find another scoring threat.

“You are not going to stop Booker,” Krzyzewski said. “I think he is one of the best players in America and definitely one of the best players in this league. He has such a strong influence on the game and may be one of their best passers, but tonight he was not able to influence the game in that area.”

Purnell said he was obviously pleased with the defensive effort, but felt the offensive effort came from a lack of speed, and cited the failure to pull the trigger on some open looks as part of the offensive struggles.

“The tempo was too slow,” Purnell said. “We didn’t play the speed we needed to play to get the win. We defended well enough to win, but we let them control the pace. Most of our points come off turnovers and when you only turn over twice in the second half, you don’t score a lot of points. We usually have a pretty balanced offense, because he [Booker] draws enough defenders to spread the offense. We didn’t take a few wide open shots, and didn’t get that balance.”

Stitt said that if the Tigers are to win, especially if he is on the bench, he will be counting on Tanner Smith and David Potter to recapture some of their fire from earlier in the season.

“We have to get players to step up and play with confidence,” Stitt said. “Potter and Tanner are big keys to our team, and we have to get those guys playing with confidence like they did earlier in the season. If we do that, we are a tough team to beat. It seems like right now that most of the scoring is coming from me and Trevor, and I don’t feel like myself right now. I can’t push the ball and attack like I want to.”

Official Basketball Box Score
Duke vs Clemson
1/23/10 9:00 PM at Clemson, SC (Littlejohn Coliseum)


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VISITORS: Duke 16-3, 4-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
12 Kyle Singler........ f  5-12   1-3    1-2    2  0  2   1  12  1  5  0  2  40-
21 Miles Plumlee....... f  1-3    0-0    0-0    1  7  8   2   2  0  0  0  0  23
42 Lance Thomas........ c  5-9    0-0    3-3    1  6  7   2  13  1  1  0  1  35
02 Nolan Smith......... g  8-13   2-4    4-4    1  2  3   2  22  2  0  1  2  37
30 Jon Scheyer......... g  5-13   1-5    0-0    0  3  3   1  11  3  3  0  1  40
05 Mason Plumlee.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   2   0  0  2  1  1   8
34 Ryan Kelly..........    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   3
55 Brian Zoubek........    0-1    0-0    0-2    1  1  2   4   0  1  1  1  1  14
   TEAM................                         4  3  7             1
   Totals..............   24-52   4-13   8-11  10 22 32  14  60  9 13  3  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-24 41.7%   2nd Half: 14-28 50.0%   Game: 46.2%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-6  33.3%   2nd Half:  2-7  28.6%   Game: 30.8%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-4  25.0%   2nd Half:  7-7  100 %   Game: 72.7%    1


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HOME TEAM: Clemson 15-5, 3-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Potter, David....... f  1-5    0-3    3-3    0  1  1   0   5  0  0  0  1  23
35 Booker, Trevor...... f 10-14   0-0    2-2    3  3  6   3  22  1  3  2  2  34
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  0-1    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   2   0  1  2  1  0  19
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  4-12   1-2    1-2    2  1  3   1  10  3  3  0  0  34
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  0-4    0-1    2-4    0  1  1   0   2  0  2  0  0  23
01 Johnson, Noel.......    0-3    0-2    0-0    1  0  1   3   0  0  2  0  1  16
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
11 Young, Andre........    3-6    1-3    0-0    0  2  2   0   7  0  1  0  1  26
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
24 Jennings, Milton....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  4  4   4   0  1  0  0  0  10
31 Booker, Devin.......    0-1    0-0    1-2    1  3  4   2   1  0  3  0  0  11
32 Hill, Donte.........    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
   TEAM................                         1  2  3
   Totals..............   18-48   2-13   9-13  10 20 30  15  47  6 16  3  5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  8-22 36.4%   2nd Half: 10-26 38.5%   Game: 37.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-5  20.0%   2nd Half:  1-8  12.5%   Game: 15.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-10 60.0%   2nd Half:  3-3  100 %   Game: 69.2%    2


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Officials: Gary Maxwell, Roger Ayers, Raymond Styons
Technical fouls: Duke-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Duke..........................   23   37  -   60
Clemson.......................   23   24  -   47

Points in the paint-DU 26,CU 26. Points off turnovers-DU 14,CU 12.
2nd chance points-DU 14,CU 6. Fast break points-DU 2,CU 4.
Bench points-DU 0,CU 8. Score tied-2 times. Lead changed-6 times.
Last FG-DU 2nd-01:09, CU 2nd-00:51.
Largest lead-DU by 13 2nd-12:38, CU by 4 1st-12:39.




Clemson vs. Duke

Postgame Coaches’ Quotes (1/23/10)



Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell



Opening statement:


“I give Duke all the credit for their defense. I didn’t like our offensive approach. We had too many dry periods. Our defense was great in the first half. Your defense is really working if you only allow 23 points in a half. The beginning of the second half killed us. We turned it over too many times. We had 13 turnovers in the first 22 minutes. We struggled against their defense. We got the ball to (Trevor) Booker but I don’t think we got it to him enough. They were able to handle our defensive pressure very well. We had them tired at the end, but we just couldn’t score enough to get back into it.”



On offensive issues:

“The tempo was too slow. We didn’t play the speed we needed to play to get the win. We defended well enough to win, but we let them control the pace.
Most of our points come off of turnovers and when you only turn them over twice in the second half, you don’t score a lot of points.”



On sharing the load offensively with Booker:

“We usually have a pretty balanced offense, because he draws enough defenders to spread the offense. We didn’t take a few wide open shots, and didn’t get that balance.”



On defensive pressure:

“During the second half, Duke handled our pressure as well as anyone in a half. Both teams went after each other physically. We played defense well enough to win, we just couldn’t score.”



Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski



Overall Thoughts:

“I am proud of our men. They played like men tonight because we played men. This was a game where points were difficult to come by and I thought both defenses were outstanding. We just got a couple of breaks that made the difference. In a game like this there is not much to separate the winner and the loser. I think Clemson is a very good team and played their butts off tonight. I thought Lance Thomas was very strong tonight.
He did a great job inbounding the ball and not making mistakes. I am proud of our guys.”



On the play of Clemson’s Trevor Booker:

“You are not going to stop Booker. I think he is one of the best players
in America and definitely one of the top players in this league. He has such a strong influence on the game and may be one of their best passers, but tonight he was not able to influence the game in that area.”



On low score of the game:

“They played very good defense, too, and I respect Clemson and Oliver Purnell. We came in tonight and wanted to beat the press and score.
Tonight the veterans did a good job of controlling the pace when we were not able to beat the press.”



On Nolan Smith:

“He has been really good all year. He has the ability to create his own shot. He had 22 points tonight in a 60-47 game. That is about 36 percent of our points.”



On giving more effort after loss to NC State:

“We have played good defense all year. This was a tough week for us with playing our most physical game of the year on Sunday. We were beat up and State played a beautiful game against us. We rested and prepared hard for this game.”



On parity in the league:

“It is great, at least I think it is great. A lot of it depends on the amount of rest that each team gets because there is not much difference in the teams up and down the conference. That makes it really exciting for everyone, except the coaches.”



On a win fueling his team:

“There is no question that teams gain confidence after a win. This is a really big win for us. We knew Clemson was going to be ready. The guys should feel good about this. It is nice to play on Saturday, because we now get Sunday off.”

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