Even without injured Okafor, No. 4 Duke crushes Clemson
No. 4 Duke was shorter and faster without Jahlil Okafor. The Blue Devils were no less dominant.
They routed Clemson 78-56 on Saturday when Quinn Cook matched a career high with 27 points and Justise Winslow added 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski called it ”one of the best wins we’ve had here in a long time” because his short-handed Blue Devils were playing three days after an emotionally exhausting overtime win over No. 15 North Carolina.
”I cannot be prouder of my team,” Krzyzewski said.
Three freshmen – Winslow, Tyus Jones (11) and Grayson Allen (10) — reached double figures to help Duke (24-3, 11-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) win its seventh straight.
With the 6-foot-11 Okafor out with a sprained left ankle, the Blue Devils went small and quick. They scored 19 fast-break points and outscored the Tigers 42-30 in the paint, largely on drives and layups.
”It was just the way we were on defense,” Cook said. ”Our defense led to some fast-break points. … We want to push it. We were smaller today, Justise got it going today, and he kind of started the tempo off. We just fed off what he was doing.”
Jaron Blossomgame had 10 points to lead Clemson (15-12, 7-8), which lost for the fourth time in five games and was denied its first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 20 years.
The Tigers pulled to 51-41 on Damarcus Harrison’s jumper with just under 14 minutes left.
Allen countered with a 3, and then Cook made two big plays: He buried a corner 3 while falling into Duke’s bench, then put the Blue Devils up 20 for the first time with a fast-break layup that made it 61-41 with about 10 minutes to play.
Winslow and Cook came up big without their biggest teammate.
Okafor — Duke’s leader in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage — was on the bench in a sportcoat and a boot protecting the ankle he injured during Wednesday night’s overtime win over UNC, leaving the Blue Devils with just seven available scholarship players.
Without Okafor to worry about, Clemson initially extended its perimeter defense to better focus on Duke’s shooters. The Blue Devils missed 10 of their first 11 3s before they hit six straight and finished 7 of 20 from behind the arc.
But the Tigers had a hard time taking the driving lanes away from Winslow, who scored 17 points in the first half and keyed an early 30-9 run.
”It’s vastly different with a smaller team and more spacing and driving angles,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. ”Our inability to score and our turnovers, just how passive we were offensively, I think was what really led to our defense just not being any good.”
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Krzyzewski had some unusual advice for Jones, his freshman point guard: ”Be a mother. `Eat this. Make your bed.’ … Mothers are the greatest point guards in the world. They’ve got four kids, every one of them’s nourished.”
Krzyzewski says there’s ”nothing structurally wrong” with Okafor’s ankle, just that it’s sprained and swollen. He says he hopes Okafor will be able to play Wednesday night at Virginia Tech.
Clemson: The Tigers have played three of the ACC teams in the top five of the polls, and all have been road losses: They lost by six at then-No. 5 Louisville and by 23 at No. 2 Virginia.
Duke: Allen reached double figures for the first time since the opener against Presbyterian.
Clemson: hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Duke: visits Virginia Tech on Wednesday.