Cold-shooting Clemson falls to No. 1 Duke, 68-40
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Devin Booker pulled up for a short jump shot, and the ball spun completely around the rim but refused to go through.
It was that kind of night for Clemson, which had serious trouble getting anything to fall during a brutal first half.
The Tigers managed just 10 points in their lowest-scoring first half in 12 years, and lost 68-40 to No. 1 Duke on Tuesday night.
"We just could not hit the easy shots,'' Booker said. "I missed a lot of easy shots, and that was pretty much the game.''
Booker had 12 points and 15 rebounds to lead Clemson (8-6, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which finished with season lows for points and shooting percentage (28 percent) and shot 12 percent in the first half. It was their fewest points at halftime since they had nine against Wake Forest in 2001.
"I know the first half was really ugly,'' coach Brad Brownell said.
Duke's Quinn Cook scored 20 of his career-high 27 points in the second half after Ryan Kelly left with an injured right foot.
Kelly had 12 points in the first half but sat out the second. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Kelly hurt the same foot he tweaked during the holidays and sprained last March, an injury that kept him out of both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Krzyzewski says the extent of Kelly's injury isn't yet known, but a CAT scan and X-rays are planned.
"We're hopeful that it's not real serious, but for precautionary reasons, we felt that it wasn't good to play him in the second half,'' Krzyzewski said.
With Kelly out, Cook picked up the slack by making nine of his 12 shots in the half to finish 12 of 16.
His turnaround from an 0-for-11 performance three days earlier against Wake Forest - although he did have a career-high 14 assists - prompted Brownell to say he "played like a first-team all-league player tonight.''
Cook easily surpassed his previous high of 17 points two months ago against Minnesota.
"You obviously think about it but you know, the next time you're at practice, you've got to move on,'' Cook said. "Great shooters always move on to the next shot. Just to have my teammates text me and tell me, `Tuesday, you're going to hit everything,' that's a great confidence builder.''
The Blue Devils (15-0, 2-0) shot 48 percent, built a 42-31 rebounding advantage and pulled away down the stretch to improve to 58-4 at home against the Tigers.
Still, Clemson made things interesting briefly in the second half, closing to 34-22 on Adonis Filer's layup with 15 1/2 minutes left.
That came after Duke's third consecutive turnover in the backcourt, and had an incensed Krzyzewski thrusting his fist on the court as he called a timeout.
Tyler Thornton rattled in a 3-pointer two possessions later, and Seth Curry followed that with a jumper to push it to 39-22 and put Duke back in control. Clemson didn't get closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Mason Plumlee finished with 13 rebounds - his ACC-leading 10th double-figure rebounding game this season - for the Blue Devils, who opened with 15 wins for the sixth time under Krzyzewski.
Yet scoring wasn't easy for either team early. They combined to miss their first 16 shots over the first 5 1/2 minutes.
But while Duke eventually warmed up, the Tigers spiraled to their coldest half in years.
Clemson was 3 for 25, went nearly 8 minutes between field goals, managed just one basket over the final 12 1/2 minutes and didn't reach double figures until 2:39 before the break - all tough numbers to overcome for a team looking for just its third victory against a No. 1 team and first since 2001.
"We just didn't hit our shots,'' Booker said. "The slow start killed us.''
Kelly scored 10 points during a 16-2 run that included 13 straight points for Duke - and by halftime, he had outscored the entire Clemson team.
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