DURHAM, N.C. - This year's Duke Basketball team may not be one of the classic ACC powerhouses of years past. But it was still good enough to keep alive its winning streak over Clemson.
The Blue Devils used a quick barrage of 3-pointers midway through the second half to take control of a close game and defeat the visiting Tigers, 62-54, Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The win was Duke's 18th straight over Clemson.
Duke, which started the evening 0-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc, got hot at just the right time. The Blue Devils were able to erase a six-point Clemson lead in the early stages of the second half and ultimately led by as many as 10.
Clemson kept it close by feeding the ball to Sharrod Ford in the paint, part of the Tigers' strategy to attack Duke's depleted front court.
But ultimately Clemson didn't have the firepower when it counted most, and Duke (9-0) escaped with the victory in the first ACC game for both teams.
“Our guys played hard and certainly didn’t back down at all, “ said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell.
Ford, who scored a team-high 20 points for the Tigers, gave his team a 33-27 lead when he completed a 3-point play with 15:04 left in the game. At the time things seemed to be swinging in Clemson's favor, especially as they continued to attack in the paint on offense.
But Duke's outside game, dormant until that point, finally broke out in a big way. Reddick's 3-pointer moments after Ford's score cut Clemson's lead to 33-30, and started an 8-2 run which pulled Duke even at 35-35.
After Akin Akingbala converted three free throws combined on Clemson's next two possessions for a 38-35 lead, the Blue Devils went ahead for good with a quick 8-0 spurt - a short jumper in the paint by Williams and back-to-back 3-points by Reddick (24 points) and Lee Melchionni.
Duke turned the spurt into a 18-5 run - again ended by consecutive 3-pointers from Reddick and Melchionni - to take a 53-43 lead with 6:01 left in the game.
Clemson (9-4, 0-1) closed to within six points twice down the stretch, but could get no closer.
Both teams struggled from the outset, each shooting poorly from the floor in the first half. Duke led at the break 24-19 despite converting just 9-of-27 (33.3 percent) field goals. Clemson was slightly worse at 8-of-27 (29.6 percent).
Only Duke's Williams scored with any consistency, hitting four of his seven shots in the first 20 minutes on his way to 10 points.
But the Tigers were able to stay close thanks to a strong half off the bench by freshman James Mays. Mays, helping Clemson attack Duke's interior, had five points. Ford had six points and six rebounds in the half.
Williams finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds for Duke.
Akinbala had nine points and Mays eight for Clemson.