Thursday, February 5, 2009


No. 10 CLEMSON 74, No. 3 DUKE 47 - Duke had won 22 straight over Clemson before the Tigers turned the table in last March's ACC tournament semifinal. That win and some therapy set the stage for last night as the Tigers used a smothering pressing defense to end the regular season streak of losses against the Blue Devils.

In front of a ravenous crowd in Littlejohn Coliseum and the Tiger's new shrink, sports psychologist Dr. Joel Fish, Clemson (19-2, 5-2 ACC), handed the Blue Devils (19-3, 6-2) their worst loss since the 1990 NCAA title game when UNLV throttled them 103-73.

Dr. Fish has been a sport psychology consultant for the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the USA Women's National Soccer Team. Whatever Fish said, it worked.

How good is Fish? Not only did the Tigers crush their nemesis, they made 3 of 5 free throws in the first half and 8 of 11 in the second period for 68.8 percent. While that's not great, it shows dramatic improvement in an area that has long been Clemson's Achilles' heel in big game situations.

Fish gave the Clemson squad a pre-game speech about believing they were an elite team, and they promptly went out and played like one. Credit coach Oliver Purnell for being creative with a group that two-years ago won 17-straight and then collapsed.

Clemson utilized relentless full court pressure to force Duke into 30.8 percent shooting from the floor - a season-low for the Blue Devils. Duke was three of thirteen from behind the arc (23.1 percent) and further buggered things up committing 16 turnovers.

Trevor Booker scored 21 points and Terrence Oglesby had five 3-pointers for No. 10 Clemson while Gerald Henderson was the only one of Duke's four double-digit average scorers to hit that mark with 16. Kyle Singler, who came in averaging 16 points, had six on 2-of-8 shooting

"It was 40 minutes of them dominating," Duke coach Mike Krzyzdjk3ski said. "They just kicked our butts."

(Officiating note: Remarkably, in spite of the lopsided score and Clemson's domination, the Blue Devils still had three more free throw attempts (19) than the Tigers (16). That should give the “Duke Gets All The Calls Crowd” riled up yet again!)

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

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