Stars' status in limbo as No. 12 Duke visits No. 11 Clemson (Feb 17, 2018)

February 17, 2018

Duke has figured out how to cope without one of its most productive players, and now it's Clemson's turn to do the same.

No. 12 Duke visits No. 11 Clemson on Sunday afternoon for an Atlantic Coast Conference basketball game with all sorts of ramifications at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C.

Duke has won twice without league scoring and rebounding leader Marcus Bagley III, a freshman forward who has sat out as a precaution with a mild knee strain. His status for this game is uncertain.

"It has been really good performances (the past two games) because look, he has been pretty good for us," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We've had a chance to look at some other things now, and when he comes back we have a chance to be a better team."

Clemson will be without point guard Shelton Mitchell, who suffered a scary head injury in Wednesday night's overtime loss at Florida State. He's in the concussion protocol after spending the overnight in a Florida hospital before returning to the Clemson campus.

The Tigers have dealt with injury issues at other times during the season, so in that regard it's sort of business as usual.

"You just want your guys to go out and compete and play as hard as they can," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "The spirit of this team has been really good throughout the season. ... Shelton's situation will be another difficult factor."

Brownell said there's no one simple solution in replacing Mitchell's minutes on the court. He averages almost 33 minutes per game.

"We'll have the luxury of moving guys around," Brownell said.

Sunday's outcome could go a long way in sorting out the pecking order near the top of the conference standings and it could impact NCAA Tournament destinations for the teams as well.

Duke (21-5, 9-4 ACC) and Clemson (20-5, 9-4) are tied for second place behind Virginia.

While it looks like Virginia might be ticketed for an opening NCAA Tournament assignment in Charlotte, N.C., either Duke or Clemson could land another spot at the site that would be regionally convenient for many of their fans.

Duke owns four victories against nationally ranked teams this season. The Blue Devils rank atop the ACC in scoring at 88.2 points per game, reaching the 80-point mark in 21 of their games.

"They've got so many big guys down low and guys who make 3s," Brownell said. "You just try to limit them the best you can."

Duke freshman guard Gary Trent Jr. is the ACC leader in 3-point shooting, including a 50.5-percent rate (46-for-92) in conference games.

Without Bagley, there's a different distribution of the offense.

"We've gotten different looks on offense with Marvin not in there," said Duke guard Grayson Allen, who has averaged 24 points in the past two games. "We're just trying to adjust, trying to find different spots. ... In saying that, we'd like to get Marvin back quickly so we can feed him down there."

Clemson is 13-0 at home this season. That includes last month's victory against North Carolina.

Duke is 4-3 in ACC road games, though it won last Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Duke leads the all-time series with Clemson by 109-31.

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