Duke 74, Clemson 53
(Chart from Statsheet. I can't find win probability charts, but this is pretty close. I assume they are using Bill James' formula to calculate safe leads, but I might be wrong.)
It was a disappointing, if not entirely unexpected result. The game wasn't really completely out of reach until the last three minutes, but I felt like the game was out of reach after Duke used a 6-0 run to push the lead to 61-44 with about 6:00 minutes left. That came after the final time Clemson threatened to cut the lead to single digits at 55-44 but couldn't take advantage of their chances.
Quick bullet points:
- The first half was an abject disaster on offense. I give Duke credit for playing some aggressive defense and really keeping us from getting good passing lanes in the halfcourt. But Clemson didn't help it's cause at all with poor spacing, poor ball-handling, poor decision-making around the basket, flat-shooting, bad bounces, and just about anything else they could possibly have screwed up. When you score 12 points in a half, I don't care how good the opposing defense is, you've done just about everything wrong.
- I give credit to the team for coming to life in the second half. Better execution in the halfcourt pushed up above 50 for the game. You can argue that Duke let up on defense, but I doubt they could have sustained the same pace for the entire game anyway.
- The offense found success against a tall team, which is encouraging. But even in the second half Clemson was plagued by poor-decision making and poor ball handling. Too many drives right into waiting Duke players, too many forced passes leading to turnovers.
- Only problem with the second half offensive output: the freshmen, aside from Devin Booker, were conspicuously absent despite foul trouble for Potter and Young. A pretty good indication of how Purnell feels about the play from Jennings, Johnson, and Hill, who all looked utterly lost in the first half and hurt the team with exceptionally bad shot selection and turnovers. On the other hand, Cameron Indoor is a pretty difficult place to expect a freshman to play his first conference game. Could spell trouble later in the season though if Purnell is forced to rotate through essentially seven guys: Smith, Young, Stitt, Potter, Grant, and the Bookers.
- The good news is I thought the defense did a good job throughout. They minimized the play of the Plumlee's underneath and made Duke beat them around the perimeter. Of course, with the improved play of Nolan Smith in addition to Scheyer and Singler they are perfectly capable of doing this, but I think it wasn't a bad strategy going in.
- We ended up losing by 20, but we essentially played them to a draw in the second half. I think this still gives us hope of pulling the upset in the friendlier confines of Littlejohn later in the month. Hopefully Johnson or Jennings start earning some playing time by then.
Tough way to start the ACC season. We get Boston College in the home opener this Saturday, though, so we shouldn't have to wait too long for our first ACC win.