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Duke Demolishes Clemson

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For just about three minutes it looked as if Clemson had resolved they were
going to stay with Duke, and when they actually took the lead at 7-5, after
breaking through the press a couple of times for easy baskets, it was a bit
uneasy in Cameron.

Not for long.  The back of the press was shut down on a nearly airtight
basis, and while Duke's offense wasn't hitting on all four gears, the defense
was amazing.  First Dunleavy stole a pass and then went in for a dunk, and
after the inbounds Battier did the same, and there might as well have been blood
in the water because the sharks were circling.

Clemson was denied everyway you can be - the ball was stolen, shots were
contested and altered, rebounds taken away, fouls drawn - you name it, they ran
into it. They ran into a buzzsaw is what happened, and when Duke took a 29 point
lead into the half, Clemson could only be thankful that the offense wasn't as
brutally efficient as it has been at times this season.

While Duke put a huge amount of pressure on Clemson, they are responsible for
a lot of this themselves. They missed open shots, were careless with the ball,
and generally played like they hadn't run into anything like this before.

Keep in mind, this is a team which took Seton Hall to the buzzer, almost took
out Cincinnati, and gave Maryland a good game. The temptation to confuse them
with last season's team is great, but wrong. They are much better.

Which makes this win even more amazing.

In the first half, Duke, specifically Nate James, really did a number on
Clemson hot shot guard Will Solomon. He hit one three pointer in the early
effort by Clemson, and that was it for the half.  It took him until well
into the second half to score again.  

The frontcourt probably had it worse, though: Allenspach was 1-5, Henderson
was 3-6, Hobbs was 0-4, Clifton was 0-3, for a total of 11 points.

On the bright side for Clemson, we thought that Scott played fairly well,
Braddick had his moments, and Stockman, the freshman, did extremely well,
hitting for 22.

For Duke, Dunleavy started out the game on fire, stealing the ball, passing,
shooting - he was superb early and very good the rest of the way.  His
alley-oop pass to Boozer was sensational.

And for his part, Boozer is really making a great impression on us with his
outlet passes, because they are textbook. And today he added a new wrinkle, a
weapon we had heard of Bill Russell doing, and maybe Wes Unseld, but not really
anyone else - getting a rebound and making an outlet pass while still in the
air.  Boozer took the ball down and fired a two handed overhead pass while
still on the way down.  It was beautiful to see fundamental skills on that
level.

Battier played amazingly well under the basket on defense, denying or
altering a number of potential shots.  Duke, by the way, outscored Clemson
in the paint by something like 40-19.  They also outrebounded them by 38-33
and offensively by - well, Clemson won that battle. But they had more
opportunities, too, since they missed 36 shots.

Jason Williams didn't shoot terribly well today - 4-12 - and he had four
turnovers.  But he put a tremendous amount of pressure on the ball, as did
Duhon, who continues to pass brilliantly.

Special praise to Nate James, though, who really did a number on Solomon -
and compounded it by really pushing him on the offensive end as well, forcing
Solomon to work hard on defense. Nate had one of his best contributions as a
Blue Devil, in our judgment, and he deserves enormous praise.  

Matt Christensen again got limited minutes, but played well and
physically.  Casey Sanders didn't get in until late in the second half, and
when he did, he a) failed to contest a dunk, b) was stripped, and c)
traveled.  Three trips up and down and back out he went.   He
came back in later and played much better. After the game, on the radio, Johnny
Dawkins reminded callers that not only is Casey a kid who grew extremely fast,
he's also only been playing basketball for four or five years.  It's not
going to happen overnight for him.  But he has talent and, Johnny said, he
works hard. He'll get there.

All things considered, this was a superb defensive effort, and when put in perspective
against the rest of Clemson's season, it's even more impressive. 
Incidentally, a Clemson writer from Tigernet came and said he was disappointed
in Cameron. The community band playing should have given him away, not to
mention the lack of cheerleaders. Or were we just focused? Anyway, the students
by and large are not back.  Come back next year and you'll get a better
idea.  And you Crazies, take it as a challenge!

Notes - Dawkins said after the game that a redshirt for Horvath has not been
considered....Andy Borman scored 5 points late, leading to a near-riot on the
bench and a muffled laugh from Coach K....Frances Redding has now missed two
games...anyone know what's up with her?....