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Duke Knocks Off Clemson In ACC Tournament By 31

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Duke put together a very impressive performance vs. Clemson, particularly on
offense, where they just drilled Clemson, hitting 17 three pointers. Even Andre
Buckner and Ryan Caldbeck knocked one down apiece. Duke shot 60% from three point range, which is pretty amazing.

In many ways, though, the best news was the return of Mike Dunleavy, who
mostly looked like he had never been away.

Dunleavy hit for 16 points and five rebounds.  He hit 6-7 and jokingly
said it was the NBA arena, that he felt at home after growing up in them. If his
timing was a bit off, it showed in his assists and turnovers - he had 0 assists
and 3 turnovers. He played 20 minutes, which was about what he was seeing before
getting sick with mono. So Duke has come through the Dunleavy absence in fine
shape. 

Dunleavy allows Coach K an incredible flexibility. Unlike recent games, when
Cwell had some foul trouble (or anyone else for that matter), K just shifted
Dunleavy in, and poof - problem solved, Carrawell rested, and on they played.

The corollary to that was the nice performance Nick Horvath put in. At the
beginning of the season, he was essentially a 3 point specialist. Clearly he has
profited from his extended playing time while Dunleavy rested, as his all-round
game tonight was excellent, particularly his defense.

Pretty much everyone on Duke played well - Battier had a great game
offensively and defensively.  Carrawell did a solid job on Solomon - he had
14 points, but was shut out for most of the second half, and one of his late 3's
came from about 28 feet, and no one guards that far out all the time.

Nate James had a superb game on both end of the court.  He had 13 in the
first half and was solid all around.

The first half alternated between super and somewhat worrisome as Duke, after
a slow start, pushed the lead out as far as 28 points before settling for a 23
point halftime lead. 

The bad news - Carrawell got 3 first half fouls. The good news - Dunleavy
played and played very well. The better news - Nate James had 13, Battier had
10, Cwell and Dunleavy had 9, and Boozer had 6 - nice balanced scoring. And
Williams had 5 assists.

On the other hand, though Duke shot well, particularly from outside, hitting
83% from three point range in the opening stanza, they gave Clemson a lot of
opportunities. Fortunately for Duke, at least in the first half, Clemson wasn't
up to taking advantage of what they were given, and actually they played pretty
fair defense in spots, despite the hot shooting. Duke, in turn, didn't play
great defense consistently. If Clemson were more gifted, they would have made
Duke pay for some first half lapses.

For instance, though Duke outshot Clemson, Clemson forced 9 turnovers and
Duke forced 5.  Each team had 5 steals.

Duke did outrebound Clemson, and substantially, 22-9. They also got 11 second
chance points to Clemson's 2.

In the second half, though, Duke really turned it up and pretty thoroughly
dominated the Tigers.  Duke took the ball away a lot and forced Clemson to
defend on the break, thus wearing the slower Tigers out. In the halfcourt, the
hot shooting continued, and there really wasn't much Clemson could do.

For the game, in a pleasant turnaround, Duke outrebounded the Tigers by 10.

Larry Shyatt had some very nice things to say about Duke's effort, desire,
and attention to detail.  One of his players said that "Duke just got
hot," but Shyatt countered by saying the reason they got hot was because
they played hard, did all the little things, and gained confidence.  

He had big words for Dunleavy, saying that he "didn't miss a beat,"
which was our take, too.

Casey Sanders got some extended minutes tonight, and not only did he hold his
own, he got five boards, a stick-back, and was the recipient of a hard foul by
Clemson's Ray Henderson, which was judged intentional. Earlier in the year that
hammering would have really hurt him. It says a lot about his improved strength
that he bounced back up from a brutal foul.  A few minutes later, he had an
impressive block, though a foul was called on the play.

If he can pull down 5-7 boards a game, Casey has found a nitch. He will just
need to play consistent defense.

Though Carlos Boozer was perhaps the statistical disappointment of the night,
though to be sure that's relative, seeing him dive on the floor after a botched
pass was wonderful Earlier in the season he didn't do that, and there were a few
times when Coach K yanked him from the lineup in disgust.

So now the Devils rest and await the winners of UNC-Wake Forest on
Friday.  Looking rejuvenated, and with Dunleavy back in the lineup, and
Carrawell and Battier actually getting some rest playing 28 and 29 minutes,
respectively, it's a much more optimistic scenario for Duke than it seemed it
would be a few days ago. It's still not going to be easy to win the tournament,
but it's looking better than it did a few days ago.

Notes - Coach K called a timeout less than 90 seconds in...he said that the
lack of attention to detail was why....Nate's first half was one of his best of
the season....17 turnovers was a statistical downer, particularly vs.
Clemson...the flipside of taking 29 3 pointers - only 17 free throw
attempts...it's increasingly clear that although Carrawell is a highly unusual
player, Battier, Dunleavy, and Williams are as well..this was the best defensive
game we've seen Horvath play...