Clemson knocks off third seed Duke


CLEMSON: What a wild ride the past four days have been for Clemson fans.

The Tigers beat No. 3 Duke 79-72 on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to sandwich wins over the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball blue bloods around Monday’s loss in the College Football Playoff title game.

Tuesday night’s win over the Blue Devils was the highest-profile upset for the Tigers (9-7, 3-3 ACC) since they beat No. 1 North Carolina on their home court in February 2001. And just like that day, students rushed the court at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson’s Aamir Simms grabs a rebound while defended by Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Clemson. AP PHOTO

On Saturday, Clemson beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the first time in program history, ending a 59-game losing streak on the Tar Heels’ home court and setting off a locker room celebration that looked like the aftermath of an NCAA Tournament win. The Tigers have won three in a row since falling below .500 in a Dec. 31 loss to Miami.

“2020 is starting to feel like our year,” said Aamir Simms, who led Clemson with a career-high 25 points.

The Blue Devils (15-2, 5-1 ) came into the game as 10 1/2-point favorites and were leading the nation with an average margin of victory of 21.5 points. Duke had not lost since a stunning home defeat to Stephen F. Austin in November.

Clemson fans, stung by the football Tigers’ first loss in 30 games — a 42-25 defeat against LSU Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans — stopped moping less than 24 hours later. Duke never had a bigger lead than 4-0 and Clemson led for more than 28 minutes.

Simms and Tevin Mack, who scored 22 points, kept dragging Duke’s big men around the perimeter.

“We tried to move their guys around a lot. They have a lot of size,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.

That opened up the lane for Clemson’s offense. Seventeen of the Tigers’ 30 baskets were layups or dunks — including one by John Newman III that was so nasty it got a shout-out on Twitter from Magic Johnson.

“Simms was spectacular tonight in how he controlled the game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

AP



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