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Duke 78 Clemson 56

Duke torched a tough Clemson team without star big man Jahlil Okafor, which should make an impression.

Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook led Duke, with Jahlil Okafor, to victory over Clemson.
Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook led Duke, with Jahlil Okafor, to victory over Clemson.
Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

No Okafor, no depth, no problem.

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Less than 72 hours after a physically and emotionally draining overtime victory over arch-rival North Carolina and down one national player of the year candidate, Duke not only survived but dominated, pounding visiting Clemson 78-56.

Duke didn't make the decision to hold Jahlil Okafor out until today, his sprained left ankle in a boot and Okafor in street clothes.

Duke started Amile Jefferson at the 5, Justise Winslow at the 4, Matt Jones at the 3 and Tyus Cook and Quinn Cook at their accustomed guard spots.

It took Duke a few minutes to get into rhythm. The game was tied at two, four and six before Clemson built their biggest lead, at 11-6.

Cook confirmed that Duke came out a bit flat. "In the first four minutes, coach got on us about our defensive intensity and we responded."

The Blue Devils used an unusual combination to erase the early deficit, a 2-3 zone, with a variety of presses and traps.

It didn't go well for Clemson. Imagine blood in the water and hungry sharks and go from there.

Krzyzewski said Duke saw an opportunity and seized it.

"I think they saw that Clemson wasn't really attacking it. They were getting through it but they weren't attacking it. So every once in a while you could be even more aggressive. It was more to beat it across half court and our guys sensed it."

Cook agreed. "We were very active, getting loose balls, getting deflections and it led to some easy baskets for us."

Ty Jones added "We wanted to transition quickly, put some pressure on them and it would work in our favor."

Clemson last led at 15-13 and then went over six minutes without a field goal. Grayson Allen gave Duke the lead for good at 16-15 on a three-point play. Cook turned a long rebound into a lay-up for 24-17, Winslow converted a steal into a three-point play for 27-17, a Matt Jones steal resulted in a Winslow lay-up for 29-17, then Winslow pushed a defensive rebound into a lay-up and Cook finished a play started by a Matt Jones steal into another lay-up.

By this point it was 36-20 and Clemson was reeling.

When Duke had to go half-court, it usually went through Winslow, who ended the first half with 17 points. Duke led 42-27 at intermission, while playing not even a smidge of man-to-man defense and without hitting a single 3-pointer.

In addition to creating defense-to-offense opportunities, the zone also kept Duke out of foul trouble. Duke had only six fouls at the half, with Marshall Plumlee the only player with more than one; he had two.

This was significant for a team that could only go seven deep. Duke never did get into any real foul trouble, team or individual.

The Tigers had one run in them, using 3-pointers by Donte Grantham and Gabe DeVoe to help cut a 48-29 deficit to 51-41, with 13:57 left, surely enough time to complete a comeback against a tired team.

It never happened. Krzyzewski implored the crowd to give his exhausted team some energy. But more importantly, he relied on an old friend. Allen, Cook, Tyus Jones, Cook again, then Matt Jones buried 3-pointers over an eight-minute span that broke open the game.

After missing 10 of its first 11 3-pointers, Duke hit six straight from beyond the arc.

Duke's biggest lead was 30, at 76-46, capping off a devastating 25-5 run.

Cook ended with 27 points, equaling his career-high set two seasons ago against these same Tigers. Winslow had 20 points and 13 huge rebounds that negated Clemson's size advantage. After a shaky start, Ty Jones had 11 points and nine assists, while the getting-better-before-our eyes Grayson Allen had 10 points, his high against an ACC team.

NOTES.

Mike Krzyzewski said Okafor's ankle had no structural damage and was getting stronger every day. But he made no promises about Wednesday night's game at Virginia Tech.

Duke's win s makes them 107-30 against Clemson, 58-4 at Cameron. Clemson hasn't won at Cameron since 1995, the last game Krzyzewski coached that season.

Cook made three 3-pointers, the 37th consecutive game he has at least one made 3-pointer. That leads the ACC. He has 74 3-pointers on the season.

Winslow had his eighth straight game scoring in double figures and notched his fourth double-double, all in the last seven games.

Duke went 11-13 from the line, with Winslow shooting an encouraging 3-4.

Cook took a seat on the bench with 1:16 left, the first time he had been off the floor since the end of the Notre Dame game, a total of 164 minutes. Krzyzewski compared his durability to that of Johnny Dawkins and Bobby Hurley, two legends of the never-get-tired universe.