No. 24 Duke will aim for its third straight victory Saturday afternoon when it travels south to face Clemson in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Clemson (14-3, 6-0 ACC) is off to a surprising undefeated start in conference play and finds itself at the top of the ACC standings. A win against Duke (13-4, 4-2) could go a long way in cementing the Tigers’ spot at the top of the table and potentially vault Clemson into the AP Top 25 rankings.
“I think the league is a lot deeper this year,” first-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer said recently. “It’s a lot deeper and really, it’s never been where you can go somewhere and you can just check it off where you’re going to win. But this year in particular you see teams beating up each other.”
Clemson coach Brad Brownell isn’t trying to look too far ahead, though.
“There are … two months of basketball left,” Brownell said this week. “We are just trying to improve and still tinkering with our team and lineups and focused on that.”
Since losing to Loyola Chicago on a neutral court in Atlanta on Dec. 10, Clemson has won six straight. Most recently, the Tigers topped Louisville 83-70 at home on Wednesday. Hunter Tyson notched his fifth straight double-double with 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Chase Hunter added 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Clemson shot 52.8 percent from the floor and flipped 15 Louisville turnovers into 18 points. The Tigers also outscored the Cardinals 38-26 in the paint.
Tyson is a fifth-year senior. His scoring total against Louisville was his second-best mark in 123 games for the Tigers. He leads Clemson in scoring this season with 16.2 points per game.
“He’s just playing with a lot of confidence,” Brownell said. “He’s shooting balls in, he’s attacking the basket, he’s rebounding. In huddles, his voice is the loudest. He’s just a mature player.”
Duke is coming off a home win Wednesday over Pitt, but the victory wasn’t always in-hand for the Blue Devils. Duke trailed by as many as 12 points and erased an 11-point halftime deficit to get a 77-69 victory.
In the first half against the Panthers, the Blue Devils had more turnovers (12) than made baskets (10). Duke had just five turnovers in the second half and shot 42.4 percent from the floor to take the lead.
Key for Duke was the play of freshman big man Kyle Filipowski, who poured in 28 points and grabbed 15 boards. He was crucial in Duke getting a 51-28 advantage on the glass. Duke is 12-2 this season when outrebounding opponents.
“He’s been a difference maker for us when he’s at his peak. It’s a game changer,” Scheyer said of Filipowski. “He puts a lot of pressure on the defense, obviously, the way he can attack the basket … Just his determination on the boards — to have 15 rebounds against them; they’ve been right there, statistically, rebounding, with other teams. For Flip to do that against a veteran team like them is a big deal.”
It’s unclear if Duke will have guard Jeremy Roach back in the rotation. The Pitt game was the second straight he missed with a toe injury.
–Field Level Media