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Offensive struggles cost Clemson against Duke

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The Tigers shot below 35 percent from the field and now have their first back-to-back loses of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

With the game tied at 57 and two minutes to play, the No. 11 Clemson Tigers were in position to steal the game against the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils. They had battled back with a 10-0 run to tie the ballgame, but the offense couldn’t hold up.

The Tigers fell 66-57 in a game that saw their red-hot offense skid to a halt. After posting five-straight games with 10-or-more made threes, the Clemson offense managed to hit just five of their 20 attempts from beyond the arc.

Furthermore, the Tigers’ trio of Gabe DeVoe, Elijah Thomas and Marcquise Reed combined to shoot just 9-of-37 on the afternoon. DeVoe, who had been a major factor in the Tigers offensive success since the injury to Donte Grantham, made just one shot in the game -- a three to help Clemson cut the lead during their late run.

Read more on Devoe.

All in all, the Tigers shot just 34 percent from the field as a unit. With their usual contributors struggling, Clemson was able to stay close early in the game thanks to a strong contribution from Mark Donnal, who scored 10 of the teams first 17 points but did not score again in the ballgame. Thomas was a force in the game as well, despite his shooting struggles; he added 15 rebounds, seven of which were offensive, three blocks and threw some slick passes in the game.

As the game persisted, the Tigers were able to hang with the Blue Devils, who were missing star big man Marvin Bagley III for the third straight game. By the time the first half ended, the Tigers trailed by just one, 35-34.

In the second half, the wheels fell apart for Clemson’s offense, they scored just 23 points, 10 of which came during the run late in the half. They also made just eight of the 33 attempts in the period.

Duke meanwhile was able to ride Wendell Carter Jr., who scored all of his 13 points in the second-half, and a good team performance at the free throw line to a victory. With the game tied at 57 and under two minutes to play, Clemson fouled Gary Trent Jr. as he put up a three-point shot. Trent Jr. hit all three, which combined with a Duke stop on the ensuing possession to effectively end the game.

Although Clemson lost the game, they were able to hang with one of the most talented teams in the nation for the better part of 40 minutes. If the Tigers offense can rebound, Clemson has a chance to snap this two-game skid at Virginia Tech next Wednesday.