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Clemson Falls to Duke in Battle of Unbeatens, 89-71

Clemson Falls to Duke in Battle of Unbeatens, 89-71

Jan. 5, 2003

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CLEMSON, S.C. – Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has coached a lot of No. 1 teams. These Blue Devils, he says, aren’t one of them.

“We finished the last four years number one,” Kryzewski said Sunday night after third-ranked Duke took a likely step to the top with an 89-71 victory over Clemson. “This team is not that, but this is also a good team. We can’t get concerned with that.”

But like they have in each of the past five seasons, the Blue Devils should reach No. 1 in the AP poll when the new rankings come out Monday after winning the matchup of undefeated teams.

“I don’t know that any team is number one or been the dominant team right now,” Duke guard Chris Duhon said. “But if we’re there, we’ll take it.”

J.J. Redick scored 22 points to lead Duke, which moved to 9-0 for third straight season and won its 14th straight over the Tigers (9-1) in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Duke, Connecticut and Wake Forest are the only undefeated teams remaining in Division I.

With No. 1 Alabama losing at Utah last Monday night and second-ranked Pittsburgh losing at Georgia the next day, the door was open for undefeated Duke to make the move to No. 1.

The Blue Devils finished with a season-high 11 3-pointers.

“I don’t think Clemson played a team like us that has the combination of an inside game and a perimeter one,” Krzyzewski said.

The Blue Devils made seven of their first 10 shots, then hit three 3-pointers during a 15-4 run that straddled both halves. Ahead 38-36 with 2:13 left in the first half, Daniel Ewing and Dahntay Jones hit 3s as Duke closed with a 10-2 run. Redick started the second half with a 3-pointer and Jones hit a short jumper to put the Blue Devils ahead 53-40.

Ewing hit another 3-pointer and Jones added an open 3 with 12:34 to give Duke a 65-47 lead. Clemson could get no closer than 12 points after that.

Redick said he, Ewing and Jones are always looking for chances to shoot.

“The three of us, we really look to penetrate and kick to each other,” said Redick, a freshman who leads Duke in scoring. “We really knocked down some big shots.”

Jones, who had 19 points, had two foul shots to give Duke its largest lead, 80-61, with three minutes to go.

Things got a little loud between the players in the second half, with officials calling five technicals to keep control. Clemson’s Sharrod Ford, Chris Hobbs and Olu Babalola were assessed technicals, along with Shelden Williams and Casey Sanders of Duke.

Edward Scott had 28 points to lead the Tigers, who were off to their best start since going 11-0 in 1995-96.

“We kind of got into their style of playing, which is real easy to do,” Scott said.

The game was the re-opening of renovated Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson had won all nine of its game at its temporary home, The Civic Center of Anderson, about 12 miles south of campus.

The arena project, which included expanded locker rooms, a practice facility and a new roof, cost $31 million. While there was still soot on chairs and concourse floors, few in the sellout crowd of 10,500 seemed to mind.

Clemson officials wore bright yellow “Ask Me” T-shirts to direct fans through the updated building and the school gave out plastic orange construction helmets with its tiger paw logo on the front.

But the only things falling were Duke’s shots.

The Blue Devils shot 57.1 percent (16-of-28) in the first half.

Williams, Duke’s freshman forward, bruised his left leg after he and Clemson’s Tomas Nagys fell hard to floor. He was taken to the locker room with two minutes left, but played in the second half.