Although Jabari Parker is in his first season, he realizes that Duke's recent history in the ACC tournament isn't up to the program's lofty standards.
The seventh-ranked Blue Devils will try to take the first step towards fixing that in Friday night's quarterfinals when they seek to avenge a loss to NCAA tournament hopeful Clemson.
Parker turned in a fabulous freshman season, averaging 19.2 points to rank second in the conference behind ACC player of the year T.J. Warren of North Carolina State.
Now he will get his first taste of the postseason for Duke (24-7), which has won a record 19 tournament titles and advanced to the championship game in 12 of the previous 16 years. The Blue Devils, however, lost in the semifinals to Florida State two years ago and were upset in this round by Maryland last year.
"It's not going to be given to us," Parker said. "Throughout the years, we have been able to win it but I think we've been in a drought so far."
Parker scored a season-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double in the Blue Devils' 93-81 win over then-No. 14 North Carolina in Saturday's regular-season finale.
Duke has won 12 of 15 games since a 72-59 loss at Clemson on Jan. 11. K.J. McDaniels was one of three Tigers with double-doubles with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Jaron Blossomgame posted season highs with 14 points and 14 boards and Landry Nnoko added 10 and 13.
"I think that was probably like our best win so far in the regular season," Clemson guard Damarcus Harrison said. "It was a big conference win for us."
It marked one of the low points of the season for coach Mike Krzyzewski's club, which was outrebounded 48-30.
"The fact that we got the double-bye is excellent because that means we have a good record, won 13 conference games," Krzyzewski said. "I'm proud of our team. You come after Clemson, you're 1-2 (in the ACC)."
Clemson (20-11) bolstered its hopes for its first NCAA berth in three seasons with Thursday's 69-65 overtime win over Georgia Tech. Harrison scored six of his 12 points in the final 44 seconds of OT and McDaniels had a team-best 18 points.
Three of the Tigers' last four games have ended past regulation, and three starters logged at least 36 minutes Thursday. Krzyzewski, however, believes fatigue may not be a factor.
"These teams that have already played in the tournament, that Friday have an advantage over the top four seeds because they're into the tournament already," the Hall of Fame coach said.
The Tigers ended a five-game slide in this series with their earlier victory.
The last time these teams met in this event in 2008, Clemson ended a longer drought of 22 straight losses to Duke with a 78-74 semifinal victory. That year marked the Tigers' only appearance in the championship.
"Duke is one of the marquee programs in the country, not just in the ACC, and to have a chance to compete against those guys is something you really look forward to and respect," coach Brad Brownell said.
The winner will face No. 11 Syracuse or North Carolina State in Saturday's semifinals.