CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers will face many challenges during their 18-game run through the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season.
There might not be any as great as the one they’ll face Tuesday.
Clemson (8-5, 0-1) travels to Durham to face No. 1 Duke (14-0, 1-0 ACC) at Cameron Indoor Stadium, one of the most intimidating venues in all of basketball. And while Mike Krzyzewski’s unbeaten team enters with momentum that’s been building since November, Brad Brownell’s club must shake off the effects of a home loss to Florida State last Saturday.
“Duke is an outstanding team and certainly very deserving of being ranked No. 1, Brownell said. “And they’re playing with a lot of confidence. It’ll be the biggest of challenges for our team.”
The Tigers fell behind the Seminoles by double digits in the first half of their ACC opener and failed to come all the way back down the stretch in a 71-66 loss to FSU.
“I don’t know what it is with the slow starts,” Brownell said. “But we’ve gotten off to enough of them that it’s a problem. We’re not scoring at the beginning of games. But we haven’t gotten off to great starts even against teams we’ve beaten handily.”
Now in danger of going 0-2 in league play, Clemson will try to pull off a monumental road upset this beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Devin Booker is the top scorer for Clemson with 11.9 points per game, while K.J. McDaniels scores 11.4 and Milton Jennings, 10.1, per contest.
Everyone will have to contribute tonight for the visitors to have a shot.
“They’ve definitely got guys who can score inside and outside but we do, too,” Booker said. “We’ve told our backup post guys to be ready. It’s definitely going to be a grind game with their type of offense and our type of defense.”
Booker said the issue of poor starts has to be solved, and there would be no better time to do it than against a foe like the Devils.
“I guess it’s just a lack of energy,” Booker said. “I’m not sure what causes it but we have to find out what it is and fix it.”
Five Blue Devils average double figures, led by forward Mason Plumlee’s 18.4 points per game clip. Plumlee is also good for 11.3 rebounds per contest.
“Mason Plumlee has really developed,” Brownell said. “He’s playing as well as anybody in the country.”
Guard Seth Curry averages 16.6 ppg., followed by forward Ryan Kelly (13.5), guard Rasheed Sulaimon (11.9) and guard Quinn Cook (10.3).
Kelly had a season-high 22 points in Duke’s 80-62 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday and Cook dished out a career-best 14 assists.
“Everybody’s going to have to bring what they’ve got to the table in this one,” Tiger guard Rod Hall said. “We have to lock into their shooters and maybe run a soft press to slow them down so they don’t get as many baskets in transition.”
While most of the stats put up by Duke have been impressive, one that particularly stands out is its 42 percent shooting clip from 3-point range.
Florida State hit 10 threes against Clemson on Saturday.
“Really, seven of the 10 they hit were due to breakdowns by our players,” Brownell said. “They were just bad plays and it’s hard to coach some of the mistakes because some are instinct plays.
“As soon as you think you’ve got something solved one of these things comes right back at you and haunts you.”