Duke basketball survives in unspirited slugfest against Clemson

Duke basketball guard Joey Baker (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball guard Joey Baker (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team narrowly escaped disaster at home against Clemson. 

Clemson entered Cameron Indoor Stadium with an average record and no impressive victories on its resume, and the Duke basketball team played like it on Tuesday night.

The No. 9 Blue Devils (16-3, 6-2 ACC) were lackadaisical all night, barely hanging on for a 71-69 victory.

Every time Mike Krzyzewski’s team looked to take a stranglehold on the game, there would be a turnover or ill-advised shot, leading to an easy look at the basket.

Duke took the lead for good with 2:15 left in the second half thanks to a tough running hook shot by Joey Baker. And Paolo Banchero pushed the lead to four, 69-65, with 1:27 to play.

However, Banchero launched a poor 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the game that led to an easy fastbreak dunk for the Tigers, bringing Clemson (11-9, 3-6 ACC) within two and the outcome still in doubt.

Despite the poor shot selection from the freshman star on the previous possession, Krzyzewski put the ball back in the hands of his best player on the block with 10 seconds remaining, and he delivered with a turnaround layup to put the game on ice.

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Clemson would get a layup with 1.7 seconds left, but Duke would survive the upset-minded Tigers without the services of freshman guard Trevor Keels (lower leg).

Keels was seen shooting prior to tipoff as he continues to recover from his injury suffered against Florida State.

Banchero led the way with 19 points, after battling foul trouble for a majority of the first half, seven rebounds, four assists, and a block. Meanwhile, Baker added 11 points off the bench on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.

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Wendell Moore and Mark Williams were the only other Blue Devils in double figures, but the contributions of Jeremy Roach should not go unnoticed as the sophomore guard filled the stat sheet with eight points, four rebounds, and nine assists. Roach tied the game, 65-65, on a mid-range jumper with 3:06 to play.

Duke will now begin its toughest stretch of conference play with its next three games on the road and five of its next six games away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Things will resume on Saturday, January 29 (12:00 p.m., ESPN) against the Louisville Cardinals, currently in disarray.

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