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Clemson 72 Duke 59

Not what we expected

Duke was not a happy team in Littlejohn Saturday
Duke was not a happy team in Littlejohn Saturday
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Not that we like saying we told you so, but we told you so Friday:

"Well, Duke will surely be favored, but it may not be an easy game. Duke has the offensive juice Clemson lacks, but Duke has also had some significant flaws on defense which were thoroughly exposed by Notre Dame. Other than Marshall Plumlee, Duke doesn't really have anyone who is as physical in the post as Clemson's big men are."

It wasn't just in the post, though. You don't need to get into a big analysis to understand what happened in the second half at Clemson. The Tigers just punished Duke, up one side and down the other.

What we got wrong though, was this.

We didn't see Clemson getting explosive offensively because they really don't get explosive that often. KJ McDaniels and Rod Hall are capable, but Landry Nnoko? Jaron Blossomgame?

There was a reason Clemson blew up though and it, too, isn't complicated.

The Tigers stopped Duke. The Blue Devils, exhausted from fighting the defense, couldn't score and defense got more difficult too.

We can't remember whether it was Dale Davis or the Grant twins, but someone's mama used to send her child out to get a proper switch and she wore someone's butt out with it.

In the South, you can get a whipping, which is bad, or a whooping, which is way worse.

Duke got a second-half whooping from Clemson.

The good news, as far as there is any good news, is that it may have registered. The notion that almost every Duke player was significantly outplayed on defense might actually take root.

This team, so talented yet still very young, will not have enjoyed being taught this brutal lesson. Things which were said and perhaps not listened to carefully before? They'll listen now or they'll sit.

One way or another, this game is a turning point for Duke. Either Clemson just did us a huge favor, which is hard to see right now, or Duke's about to fade away.

Given Coach K's track record, given his willingness to sit a better player for a harder working one, our bet is that this ends up being a positive.

There's not much time to mope. Virginia is coming to Cameron Monday, and the Cavaliers are no longer playing cavalierly. Since the loss to Tennessee - a loss similar to Duke's loss Saturday to Clemson by the way - Virginia is throttling the life out of opponents.

Losing to Virginia won't be the end of the world, but if Duke doesn't play angry and with heart, it might feel like it is.