|Monday, January 13, 2014, 9:14 AM- -|
Saturday was a great day in Littlejohn. It was great for the fans to get a chance to enjoy a big win, perhaps the biggest in the
Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
View Full Profile era. It was great that the staff that has worked so hard had a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But most importantly, it was a great day for the players. They chose Clemson and it was nice to see them rewarded enjoy success and perhaps inject confidence into the program.
Brownell and his staff came up with a terrific game plan, but their biggest task was giving the players a reason to believe despite a bad performance just two days earlier. The staff got the players emotionally ready to play when they could have laid down and felt sorry for themselves.
One of my biggest satisfactions Saturday came from hearing the praise for the Tigers from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Coach K said, "First of all, congratulations to Clemson. Brad and his staff and his team just had a heck of a game. Their kids played so hard, and it started from the get-go. From the start you could tell they had a great verve. I thought that in the first half we did a good job of countering that, but their physicality and athleticism and determination wore on us. We got doubled on the score in the second half. A lot of it was their defense. We missed some shots that we should hit. In saying that, I’m not sure that that would have been enough to beat them. Blossomgame had an amazing game, 14 and 14. He had two big three-point shots that I think turned the tide definitely in their favor. That’s how games change. They killed us on the boards, 48-30. We’re not a good team right now. We’re a small team and we need make up for it in other ways. We’re not some powerhouse. When you watch the game, they’re bigger. [K.J.] McDaniels is one of the best players in the league. He’s the best athlete, and he’s also an outstanding player. They were terrific, and we need to get a lot better. We’re not very good right now and that’s on me as a coach. I never bad mouth my team or any guy. We win together, we lose together, but we’re not very good right now and we’ve got to take steps to try to get to be good, because the league is unforgiving.”
Who would have thought that a Hall of Famer would have those words about this program after Thursday night?
Coach K added, "Again, they were outstanding. Their crowd, everything. They were obviously the most deserving of winning.”
With the win Clemson moved to 2-1 in the ACC and has a chance to win on the road Wednesday night against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
The Tiger defense held Duke to 59 points, a season-low for the high-scoring Blue Devils who averaged 84.3 per game entering Saturday. Duke shot 32% (8-for-25) from three. Clemson outscored Duke 41-22 in the second half. The Blue Devils were 8-25 in the second half and were outshot by the Tigers 51% to 25%. Duke was just 3-14 from three in the second half.
I thought another key was Clemson's transition defense. Duke usually has a lot of success in the transition and also off of the secondary break but Clemson held Duke to only two points off of the fast break.
A lot of fans got a chance to see Jabari Parker for the first time but I thought Clemson did a terrific job against the future lottery pick. Clemson held Parker to 15 points.
A huge key was Clemson's dominance on the boards. Clemson’s +18 rebound margin (48-30) was its second-highest in 111 games under Brownell. The biggest was +19 over Coastal Carolina earlier this season. The Tigers had three players with double-doubles. It is the first time Clemson has had three players with double-doubles in the same game since Feb. 13, 1985 when Horace Grant (24-12), Vincent Hamilton (21-10) and Raymond Jones (10-15) all had double-doubles in an 80-65 win over Wake Forest at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Jaron BlossomgameJaron Blossomgame
RS Fr. Forward
#5 6-7, 215
View Full Profile was a great example of a player who was not a factor Thursday but rallied for a brilliant performance Saturday. Blossomgame tallied his first career double-double when posted 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. He had never had a double figure game in terms of points or rebounds in any game so far in his career, yet posted both Saturday.
McDaniels scored a game-high 24 points Saturday, his seventh game of at least 20 points this season. McDaniels added 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
Landry NnokoLandry Nnoko
#35 6-10, 245
View Full Profile also recorded his third double-double of the season, with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Nnoko’s 10 were a career-high against an ACC opponent. He matched his career-high with six offensive rebounds Saturday.
Rod HallRod Hall
#4 6-1, 210
View Full Profile was in effective in the paint against Florida State because of their size but he had a great game Saturday. Hall posted 11 points, all in the second half.
One game after being outscored 44-16 in the paint by Florida State, Clemson reversed the trend and beat Duke 38-20 by the same measure Saturday.
A crazy stat is Duke lost by 13 despite turning the ball over only five times.
In the end, Saturday was one for the record books and one that many of us will remember for a long time. It was not the 74-47 route of a few years ago but it was just as sweet in so many ways.
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