Clemson-Duke: Tigers Defense Stands Up, Holds Blue Devils to 47 in Rout

Greg JansenCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2009

Before tonight's game, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell asked the Tigers to build off of their win against Duke in last year's ACC tournament.

They not only built off of last year's win, they built a foundation.

Clemson held the Blue Devils offense to 31 percent shooting in a 74-47 thrashing. The Tigers shot 47 percent from the floor, with Trevor Booker leading the way with 21 points, including two dunks that shook all of Clemson.

The real story, though, is Clemson's stingy defense. The same defense that had questions after games against Wake Forest and North Carolina buckled down and choked a mighty Duke offense.

Clemson forced 16 turnovers, including 12 steals. Booker blocked three shots, and Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant each blocked two of their own.

Ultimately, the Tigers proved that their defense can hold up against the best when called upon. Duke averages almost 80 points per game, third in the ACC behind Wake Forest and North Carolina.  Before tonight, Duke had not scored less than 66 points in a game this season.  Tonight, only two of their players, Gerald Henderson and Lance Thomas, scored in double digits.

Clemson now has a base upon which to build. I know a two-game winning streak isn't something to shout from the mountains, but after ending a 20-game regular season losing streak against Duke, the determination to become a nationally-recognized team has never gone higher.

And the Tiger's roar is echoing over the Blue Ridge with growing confidence with every passing game.