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Duke holds off Clemson 79-72

The Tigers cut a 13-point deficit to just one in the final minutes, but the Blue Devils had just enough to pull away.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke vs Clemson Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson’s Marquise Reed converted a three-point play to cut Duke’s lead to 69-68 with less than three minutes to go, but Luke Kennard hit two clutch jumpers late to help the Blue Devils pull away for a 79-72 win.

Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson each scored 20 points apiece for Duke, which led by 13 with 8:30 remaining in the second half before a furious Clemson rally trimmed the deficit to just one with 2:51 left.

The Tigers still trailed by just three after Kennard answered with his first of two late baskets, but Elijah Thomas missed a wide-open layup then committed a needless foul on the ensuing Duke possession. Clemson never had the ball with a chance to tie from then on.

Jaron Blossomgame led the Tigers with 19 points, but his many first-half turnovers contributed to Clemson’s inability to build any kind of significant lead.

Shelton Mitchell scored 17 including going 3 for 3 from three-point range, and Sidy Djitte posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Reed pitched in 13 points off the bench but was ineffective from the field until late. He was a perfect 7 of 7 from the free-throw line, and Clemson made 24 of its 26 attempts from the stripe as a team.

Clemson will wait to see if it has done enough to earn a bid to the NIT.