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Paws up, paws down: Tigers fall to Duke in dramatic fashion

Toby Corriston
Clemson guard Chase Hunter attempts to score over Duke’s Jared McCain in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 27, 2024.

The Clemson men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the then-No. 12 Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium last Saturday. The Tigers lost 72-71 on last-second free throws, but it was an intense and hard-fought game.

Here are some of the ups and downs of the game:

Paws up: Tenacious rebounding

Clemson kept the Blue Devils to one-shot possessions all night, and it was a prominent bright spot for the Tigers in one of the most hostile game environments in college basketball.

The Tigers held Duke to one offensive rebound and zero second-chance points in the first half and ended the game out-rebounding Duke 42-33 and 11-4 in offensive rebounding. In total, the Tigers had an opportunity for 15 second-chance points to Duke’s zero by the final quarter.

PJ Hall set the tone on all counts, as he led the team in points with 19 and 10 rebounds. Hall kept the Tigers in the game until the very last second with his two clutch free throws to take the lead late in the game. Clemson will need more all-around performances from him and the rest of the team as the Tigers continue to move deeper into ACC play.

Paws down: Offensive inconsistencies

Playing the Blue Devils at home is always challenging, and the Tigers felt the heat at times, especially in the first half.

Clemson, up 16-12 in the first half, ended the half going 1-of-9 from the field and had a scoring drought of over three minutes, giving the Blue Devils a 13-2 run and their largest lead of the game at 32-20.

The Tigers’ offensive inconsistencies, accompanied by Duke shooting a combined 42.9% from the three, left the Tigers without any answers during the game. Clemson’s lack of scoring struck hard at the end of the game as the Tigers did not make a shot from the field in the last three minutes, ultimately making it possible for Duke to close out the game.

The Tigers responded very well in the second half, but giving a double-digit lead against any opponent is not ideal, especially against a ranked team. Basketball is a game of runs, but minimizing these runs with points of their own will build the Tigers’ confidence.

Paws up: Second-half response

Heading into halftime down by six, the Tigers calmed their nerves and came into the second half with confidence, refusing to back down against one of the best teams in the country.

The Tigers scored on 60% of their possessions in the second half and went 13-for-14 from the free throw line, with perfect free throw performances from four key players in the rotation: Ian Schieffelin, Joseph Girard III, Hall, and Josh Beadle.

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About the Contributors
Malone Kinard-Huisinger
Malone Kinard-Huisinger, Senior Reporter
Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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