College Basketball: Duke at Clemson - Duke Favored
Now, the 18th-ranked Blue Devils look to continue their recent domination of Clemson when the teams meet at Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday.
Duke (20-7, 7-6 ACC) dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1996 after losing four straight games, but moved back into the rankings on Monday after a 78-70 win at then-No. 21 Boston College on Feb. 14 and a 71-62 home victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The win over the Yellow Jackets gave the Blue Devils 20 victories for the 11th straight season and was coach Mike Krzyzewski's 700th at Duke.
"We're getting better, and anytime you're getting better, your confidence is going to grow," said Greg Paulus, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 15 points. "We wanted to come out and make as many plays as we could, be intense on defense and try to drive the ball and be aggressive on offense."
The Blue Devils will be looking to keep that momentum alive against a Clemson team they have defeated 20 straight times. The Tigers (19-7, 5-7) have not beat Duke since an 86-82 home victory on Jan. 7, 1997, and have been outscored by an average of 16 points during the skid.
Clemson, however, did give Duke a scare in the first meeting between the teams this season on Jan. 25. That game ended in controversy as officials added time to the clock after Vernon Hamilton intercepted an inbounds pass and hit a game-tying 3-pointer to cap Clemson's five-point comeback in the final 13 seconds.
The clock did not start when Hamilton made the steal, and the Blue Devils took advantage as David McClure made a layup as time expired to give Duke a 68-66 victory.
"It all happened so fast," said Hamilton, who led Clemson with 21 points in the game. "I really thought when I hit the 3 it was time to go to overtime."
The Tigers were the nation's last unbeaten team in Division I at 17-0, but have since dropped seven of nine. They have lost their last two, including Sunday's 82-66 defeat to Maryland.
Cliff Hammonds scored 16 points while James Mays, who leads Clemson with 13.2 points per game, was held to just 10. Despite their recent struggles, coach Oliver Purnell still thinks the Tigers can make the NCAA tournament.
"But we've got to win some games to make that happen," said Purnell, whose team is trying to reach 20 wins for the first time since 1998-99.
DeMarcus Nelson leads the Blue Devils with 14.0 points per game and had 13 Sunday against the Yellow Jackets. The Blue Devils have a 53-27 advantage in points off turnovers in their last two games.
"We're used to winning," forward Josh McRoberts said. "We lost a few games, but we still expect to win every time out."
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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