GREENSBORO, N.C. – Clemson had the benefit of a healthy K.J. McDaniels, partisan crowd, home court advantage and 48-30 rebounding edge when it defeated Duke 72-59 back in January at Littlejohn Coliseum.
None of those ingredients were available in the quarterfinals of the ACC Basketball Tournament – and yet the Tigers still almost pulled off a monumental victory.
Hall talks foul call
Rodney Hood sank two free throws to put Duke ahead 63-62 with three seconds remaining, and Rod Hall failed to draw a foul while driving the lane on the last possession, allowing the Blue Devils to escape and advance on Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Clemson battled from wire to wire, watching Duke build leads as large as 13 in the second half.
However, the lower seed heated up from the floor in the second half, hitting nearly 67 percent of its shots to get right back in the chase.
After the squad found its shooting touch they put themselves in position to pull off the upset when Hall scored on a jumper with: 09 to play.
That gave Brad Brownell’s charges a 62-61 lead and set the table for a wild finish.
The Blue Devils charged up court after the basket and Hood went inside, losing control. K. J. McDaniels, though, was whistled for a foul with three ticks remaining.
Hood connected on both free throws, and ultimately that was the difference.
“They got a call and we didn’t,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
It appeared Hall might have been fouled by Rasheed Sulaimon in the paint at the other end after the charity tosses, but the whistle never blew – only the final horn.
“Coach got me the ball knowing I’d make something happen around the rim,” Hall said. “It was a no call, so you deal with it.”
The No. 6 seed Tigers (20-12) will now head back to Pickens County where they’ll likely earn an NIT bid on Sunday, while Duke (25-7) faces North Carolina State today in a Tobacco Road semifinal.
Jabari Parker led the winners with 18 points, followed by Hood (17) and Sulaimon (14).
Hall had 13 Clemson points and McDaniels finished with 11.
Other double digit Tigers were Jordan Roper (11) and Landry Nnoko.
The Blue Devils won the battle of the boards, 34-25.
Neither team had much success shooting the ball in the first half, with the Blue Devils going 12 of 30 from the field and the Tigers hitting just 8-of-22 shots.
'Duke gets calls'
'Duke gets calls'
After Duke moved ahead 10-3 Clemson got right back in it, getting a bucket and free throw from Jaron Blossomgame, a slam courtesy of Nnoko and a Roper jumper to pull to within three at 13-10.
Moments later a Roper 3-pointer, followed by his six consecutive free throws, pushed Clemson on top 19-17. The advantage held until a Hood dunk gave Duke a 27-25 lead with 59 seconds left in the half and a Parker slam at the 29 second juncture lifted Krzyzewski’s team to a 29-25 advantage.
That’s how it stood at the break, with very little separating the teams.
Roper led all scorers at halftime with 11 points and Parker led the way for Duke with 10.
“That was a bruising game,” Krzyzewski said. “Points were hard to come by. Brad’s done one of the great jobs in the country coaching his team.”