Duke, Refs, Hold Off Clemson

It was a valiant effort by Clemson.  We played with a lot energy and emotion throughout the game.  I thought we played very well in spurts.  But playing well in spurts won’t get you a win in Cameron.

In the 1st half it look like Duke might run away with the game.  Duke hit Clemson with a couple runs in that 1st half that made it seem like the rout was on.  But Clemson weathered those storms by responding with runs of their own.  After Duke took a 31-20 lead, Clemson responded with a 14-5 run to close out the half and enter the locker room down just 36-34.

Duke again shot out of the gates to start the 2nd half and took an 8 point lead.  But Clemson locked down on defense, took good shots, and clawed their way back into the game.  Duke knocked down a couple of big 3’s to keep Clemson at arms length throughout the last 10 minutes.  Clemson was able to remain within single digits with under 4 minutes left, even cutting it to 6 with just over 2 minutes left. But a lack of offensive weapons and poor defensive rotations made the lead to large to overcome.

If we could’ve corralled a couple of defensive rebounds or loose balls things may have been different.  There were several opportunities where we got a defensive stop and fumbled the ball out of bounds.  Duke being Duke was able to turn those mistake into 3 points on the ensuing in bounds plays. 

With Jerai Grant struggling offensively again in another big game, Clemson was again without an inside scoring threat.  I’m tired of giving Grant the excuse I gave him against UNC, which was that the their length bothered him.  He is a big man playing college basketball.  He should’ve learned by now how to draw fouls and score against bigger defenders.  Instead, he seems intimidated by bigger defenders and shrinks himself.   We do not have good enough outside shooters to overcome the lack of an inside scoring presence.

The referees didn’t do us too many favors either.  Clemson was called for offensive foul after offensive foul as Duke’s players stood directly under the basket when we attacked the rim.  You would figure the charges would at least be reciprocated at the other end.  Wrong.  Those are considered blocking fouls when Clemson attempts to take a charge.  There were traveling calls that didn’t go our way, 10 second violations ignored, and ticky-tack fouls galore. Len Elmore was quick to defend Clemson, pointing out the numerous bad calls that were going Duke’s way.  But it’s typical and what you come to expect when you play them.   It’s part of what makes winning in Cameron so difficult.

Lastly, two thumbs down for Mike Patrick.  He can’t get players or coaches names correct.  It’s not "Brad Brownly".  It’s Brownell, moron.  Not only that, he frequently botches the score too.  Isn’t that his job?  That’s about all he is asked to do because he surely can’t analyze a basketball game.   On top of that, he seems like a Duke cheerleader when commentating.  Why ESPN puts him on the air for any sporting event blows my mind.

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