Duke vs. Clemson score, takeaways: Tigers top No. 3 Blue Devils just days after winning at UNC for first time
Clemson follows its first victory ever at North Carolina with an upset win over Duke
The hottest Division I team in the Carolinas isn't Duke or North Carolina -- it's Clemson. The unranked Tigers upset No. 3 Duke 79-72 on Tuesday night, capping off a perfect 3-0 run the last 10 days that included wins over NC State and North Carolina and culminated with the win vs. the Blue Devils, who were 10.5-point favorites.
The Tigers (9-7) improve to 3-3 in ACC play with their third consecutive win after an 0-3 start within the league. In the process, they snap Duke's nine-game winning streak that dated back to November. It's Duke's second loss of the season, bumping it to 15-2 on the year and 5-1 in ACC play. It was the Tigers' first victory over a team in the top three since 2001.
Entering the game Duke had won its last four games vs. Clemson and were playing without sophomore wing Joey Baker, who missed the game after he sprained an ankle in practice on Monday. Baker is the second Duke wing to go down with an injury since the new year started two weeks ago. Just last week, freshman forward Wendell Moore Jr. broke a bone in his right hand and underwent surgery. He's expected to miss significant time recovering.
With the victory, coach Brad Brownell won his 178th game at Clemson, passing Cliff Ellis for most wins in program history.
1. Aamir Simms gave Duke fits: Clemson's 6-foot-8 junior big man was drawing comparisons to Nikola Jokić on the broadcast, and on multiple occasions. And yes -- that comparison is massive hypberole -- but it's also a testament to how dominant Simms was. He posted a career-high 25 points and added nine rebounds and five assists, hitting 10 of his 15 shots from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Clemson ran its offense through Simms, who operated as a quasi power-point, and Duke was flummoxed on how to combat him. It never quite figured it out either as he scored 13 of his 25 in the second half to polish off a banner week for Clemson basketball.
2. Duke's susceptibility: Duke has had multiple players in and out of the lineup this season with injuries, ranging from Cassius Stanley to Tre Jones. The latest injury bug report has freshman wing Wendell Moore Jr. out indefinitely and sophomore wing Joey Baker in a similar spot, though Baker's sprained ankle is considered less serious.
There's good news and bad news here. The good: Duke has one of the best players in college basketball in Vernon Carey Jr. as well as Tre Jones feeding him the rock. The bad, if only temporary: Duke's margin for error will continue to be razor thin as it plows through ACC play at less than full strength. Looming to close out January is a three-game home stand against Louisville, Miami and Pittsburgh.
3. Party like it's 1995: Clemson beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the first time ever earlier this week, then beat Duke on Tuesday -- the first time the Tigers beat both in the same season since 1995-1996. National runner-up in football aside, that's a week worth celebrating. And celebrate they did:
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