ACC Basketball: Duke 68, Clemson 40
DURHAM — Quinn Cook followed his worst scoring game with his best — and his production helped No. 1 Duke after one of its leaders was hurt.
Cook scored 20 of his career-high 27 points in the second half after Ryan Kelly left with an injured right foot, and the Blue Devils beat Clemson 68-40 on Tuesday night after holding the Tigers to their lowest-scoring first half in 12 years.
Kelly had 12 points in the first half but sat out the second. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Kelly hurt the same foot he tweaked during the holidays and sprained last March, an injury that kept him out of both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Krzyzewski says the extent of Kelly’s injury isn’t yet known, but a CAT scan and X-rays are planned.
“We’re hopeful that it’s not real serious, but for precautionary reasons, we felt that it wasn’t good to play him in the second half,” Krzyzewski said.
With Kelly out, Cook picked up the slack by making nine of his 12 shots in the half to finish 12 of 16 from the field.
His turnaround from an 0-for-11 performance three days earlier against Wake Forest — although he did have a career-high 14 assists — prompted Clemson coach Brad Brownell to say he “played like a first-team all-league player tonight.”
Cook easily surpassed his previous high of 17 points two months ago against Minnesota.
“You obviously think about it but you know, the next time you’re at practice, you’ve got to move on,” Cook said. “Great shooters always move on to the next shot. Just to have my teammates text me and tell me, ‘Tuesday, you’re going to hit everything,’ that’s a great confidence builder.”
The Blue Devils (15-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 48 percent, built a 42-31 rebounding advantage and pulled away down the stretch to improve to 58-4 at home against the Tigers.
Devin Booker had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Clemson (8-6, 0-2), which had season lows for points and shooting percentage (28 percent) and shot 12 percent in its brutal first half.
The Tigers had just 10 points at halftime, their fewest since scoring nine against Wake Forest in 2001.
“We just didn’t hit our shots,” Booker said. “The slow start killed us.”
Still, Clemson made things interesting briefly in the second half, closing to 34-22 on Adonis Filer’s layup with 151/2 minutes left.
That came after Duke’s third consecutive turnover in the backcourt, and had an incensed Krzyzewski thrusting his fist on the court as he called a timeout.
Tyler Thornton rattled in a 3-pointer two possessions later, and Seth Curry followed that with a jumper to push it to 39-22 and put Duke back in control. Clemson didn’t get closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Mason Plumlee finished with 13 rebounds — his ACC-leading 10th double-figure rebounding game this season — for the Blue Devils, who opened with 15 wins for the sixth time under Krzyzewski.
Yet scoring wasn’t easy for either team early. They combined to miss their first 16 shots over the first 51/2 minutes.
But while Duke eventually warmed up, the Tigers spiraled to their coldest half in years.
Clemson was 3 for 25, went nearly 8 minutes between field goals, managed just one basket over the final 121/2 minutes and didn’t reach double figures until 2:39 before the break — all tough numbers to overcome for a team looking for just its third victory against a No. 1 team and first since 2001.
“We just could not hit the easy shots,” Booker said.
“I missed a lot of easy shots and that was pretty much the game.”
Kelly scored 10 points during a 16-2 run that included 13 straight points for Duke — and by halftime, he had outscored the entire Clemson team.