Clemson Falls Short Against No. 1 Duke


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - The free throw can be the most tantalizing shot in all of basketball.


Only 15 feet away from the basket, it is an uncontested shot that happens while the world stands still. The teams which master the ability to hit the majority of those shots usually fare well in competition.


The ones that don't, well, you need to look no further than Clemson.


The Tigers stood toe-to-toe with No. 1 and undefeated Duke for 40 minutes Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. Oliver Purnell's team shot the ball well from the floor (53 percent), out-rebounded the Blue Devils (33-26), and matched them star player (J.J. Redick's 34 points) for star player (Vernon Hamilton's career-high 31).


Yet Clemson fell by 10, 87-77.


The difference?


Duke (16-0, 4-0) shot 80.6 percent (29-of-36) from the free throw line.


Clemson (13-4, 2-2) could muster only a paltry 28.6 percent. That's 6-of-21. Fifteen unclaimed points in a 10-point loss to the top-ranked team in the country.


"It's frustrating," Purnell said afterwards. "We knew we weren't going to be a great free throw shooting team this season, but this is the first time I felt it really cost us. It kept us from getting a working margin in the first half, and it made it difficult to come back in the second."


Asked why his team - 60 percent from the line on the year coming into Saturday- struggles so much in that aspect of the game, Purnell sighed.


"We don't shoot the ball very well," he said. "That's why we have to play outstanding defense."


Clemson defended as well as could be expected Saturday, but still watched the Redick-Sheldon Williams tandem combine for 51 points.


Redick, who connected on just 2-of-5 attempts from 3-point land, garnered most of his points on mid-range jumpers or layups. He also got to the free throw line 16 times, hitting 12 - the first time ever he's missed as many as four free throws in a game on his way to the 34-point afternoon.


Meanwhile Williams, held somewhat in check in the first half (six points) due to foul trouble, scored 11 big points in the second half to help the Blue Devils keep Clemson at arm's length.


"J.J. and Sheldon performed like veterans today," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Clemson played us tough for 40 minutes today and I thought our composure was outstanding. That was the hardest any team has played against us all year. We've had some teams play hard this year, but not like Clemson did today."


Hardest of the Tigers, at least for Duke to stop, was Hamilton.


The sophomore guard hit shots from every conceivable angle Saturday. Spinning, leaning, fading. Straight in or off the glass. It didn't matter. Whenever Clemson needed a big shot, it was Hamilton who delivered and helped keep his team close.


It was enough to impress Krzyzewski.


"I've never seen anybody hit that many shots, leaning and floating," he said. "He was outstanding. He's the heart and soul of that team, no question. And Clemson is full of heart and soul. Hamilton just wouldn't let them go away."


Duke led 44-38 at the half and extended the margin to as many as 11 in the second half. Clemson would draw back within five with just under 2:00 remaining, but could get no closer.


"I felt like we let one get away, yeah," Purnell said. "But there will be plenty of chances to redeem ourselves. It's a tough conference."


Shawan Robinson scored 17 points for the Tigers, while Cliff Hammonds added 10.


Greg Paulus, Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni each scored 10 for Duke.


VISITORS: Duke 16-0,4-0
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 Josh McRoberts...... f  1-2    0-0    2-2    0  1  1   3   4  0  0  2  0  14
23 Shelden Williams.... c  6-12   0-1    5-6    4  7 11   4  17  0  1  3  1  35
03 Greg Paulus......... g  3-7    0-0    4-4    1  3  4   2  10  8  3  0  2  38
04 J.J. Redick......... g 10-16   2-5   12-16   0  1  1   3  34  3  2  0  2  40
15 Sean Dockery........ g  4-6    1-1    1-2    1  1  2   4  10  1  2  0  4  34
05 Martynas Pocius.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  1  0  0  0   7
13 Lee Melchionni......    2-3    1-2    5-6    2  4  6   3  10  1  1  0  0  31
34 Jamal Boykin........    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   2  0  0  0  0   1
   TEAM................                         1     1             1
   Totals..............   27-47   4-9   29-36   9 17 26  20  87 14 10  5  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 17-29 58.6%   2nd Half: 10-18 55.6%   Game: 57.4%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-5  60.0%   2nd Half:  1-4  25.0%   Game: 44.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  7-10 70.0%   2nd Half: 22-26 84.6%   Game: 80.6%   4,1

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 13-4,2-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
32 Sam Perry........... f  2-5    0-0    0-2    2  2  4   3   4  0  0  0  1  23
42 Julius Powell....... f  0-1    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  2  0  0  12
33 Akin Akingbala...... c  4-9    0-0    1-5    5  3  8   3   9  1  2  2  0  30
22 Shawan Robinson..... g  6-11   3-6    2-2    1  1  2   3  17  1  4  0  0  30
25 Cliff Hammonds...... g  5-12   0-3    0-0    2  4  6   4  10  2  0  0  3  39
01 K.C. Rivers.........    1-3    1-2    0-0    3  1  4   4   3  3  1  0  0  20
03 Vernon Hamilton.....   14-19   1-2    2-6    2  1  3   4  31  0  3  0  3  34
04 Steve Allen.........    1-1    0-0    1-6    2  0  2   2   3  0  0  2  0   9
12 Raymond Sykes.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   3
   TEAM................                         2  1  3
   Totals..............   33-61   5-14   6-21  19 14 33  23  77  7 13  4  7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-28 53.6%   2nd Half: 18-33 54.5%   Game: 54.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-10 50.0%   2nd Half:  0-4   0.0%   Game: 35.7%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-13 23.1%   2nd Half:  3-8  37.5%   Game: 28.6%    6

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Ted Valentine, Les Jones, Curtis Blair
Technical fouls: Duke-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Duke..........................   44   43  -   87
Clemson.......................   38   39  -   77
ID-389702

Points in the paint-DU 38,CU 42. Points off turnovers-DU 18,CU 14.
2nd chance points-DU 7,CU 23. Fast break points-DU 14,CU 6.
Bench points-DU 12,CU 37. Score tied-4 times. Lead changed-9 times.
Last FG-DU 2nd-01:42, CU 2nd-00:25.
Largest lead-DU by 11 2nd-15:05, CU by 3 1st-18:21.

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