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Next Up - Clemson

Clemson is coming to Cameron Saturday, and for Duke, it's a significant challenge, not least of all because of Clemson's inside game.Duke can match up reasonably well with James Mays, but Trevor Booker is a real concern. The 6-7 Booker is a bull inside. Highly athletic and strong, Duke has no one like him. If you want a point of reference, consider Pitt's DeJuan Blair. Booker had a really good freshman year, and he's just gotten better. Booker is averaging nearly 13 ppg and just under 9 rpg.

Mays is not too far off of that, averaging 11.2 ppg and 7.1 rpg. So Duke has to deal with, basically, 24 ppg and 16 rpg from Clemson's big men. He's showing a lot of guts this season, fighting through his well-known hip injury, but also back spasms and a hand injury suffered against UNC. Just getting him ready takes several different machines. He's got more heart than anyone knew.

And then they have Raymond Sikes and Jerai Grant coming off the bench. It's no day at the beach playing Clemson.

And they have some other players, too. We've always admired Cliff Hammonds as a great example of what a student athlete should be. The 6-3 Hammonds is key for Clemson because of his talent but also because of his character.

K.C. Rivers is one of the better offensive players in the conference, and he's capable of ripping a game open in a big hurry.

Freshman Demontez Stitt has emerged as a pretty good point guard for the Tigers, and that's huge for them. There are a lot of ACC schools, maybe including one in Raleigh, who are probably wishing they had gone after him a little harder.

And then there's Terence Oglesby. At 6-2, he's a half-foot or so shorter than Taylor King, but he can have a similar impact from behind the line. Oglesby has quickly established himself as one of the ACC's better shooters, and a guy who you better keep track of at the end of a game. Like King, and like J.J. Redick, he has a gun-slinger's mentality.

The Tigers also still have defensive stopper Sam Perry, who is healthy again, and sophomore David Potter has been getting meaningful minutes as well.

Like Duke, Clemson likes to put on serious defensive pressure, and Mays is the key to that, since he handles the back of their press.

There are obviously some interesting matchups here, but just as Clemson presents some problems for Duke, Duke presents some for Clemson.

For one, someone has to follow Kyle Singler around. He has shown an increased willingness to shoot from outside, and someone has to get a hand up, and stay with him in case he decides to drive.

We're not sure anyone for Clemson can go up as high as Gerald Henderson can, and that could give Duke an edge there. And Duke will have a lot of defenders to throw at Stitt, probably starting with DeMarcus Nelson.

And while Tech's defense is geared to disrupting ballhandlers and passing, and is powerful inside, Duke usually has four to five competent ballhanders in the game at all times, and almost everyone can shoot from behind the line. Clemson will probably find it harder to disrupt Duke than it has most opponents.

And Clemson still has a critical weakness, particularly in close games, and that's free throw shooting. Stitt is very good, at 81%. Booker checks in at 70%. Oglesby tops out at 85% and Potter manages 75%. But the team overall only manages 64.3%, and that's an improvement from last year. Hammonds is a particular disaster at 36%.

It's going to be a tight game, just like last year's controversial game in Durham. But both teams are very different, so there's no analogy. And while Clemson no doubt is thinking payback, it didn't help much in last year's rematch, and as Coach K points out, if you're thinking about payback, you're thinking about failure.