Clemson struggled all afternoon against the Blue Devils’ zone defense
It was pretty obvious Clemson missed Shelton Mitchell in its 66-57 loss to No. 12 Duke Sunday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
The 11th-ranked Tigers had no answer for Duke’s 2-2-1 extended zone defense, which limited Clemson’s sharp shooter, Gabe DeVoe, to three points, his second lowest point total of the season. DeVoe made just one field goal on 10 attempts and was 1-for-8 from three-point range.
Prior to Sunday, the Shelby, N.C. native made 25-of-40 threes over the last five games … 62.5 percent if you are doing to the math at home. DeVoe also had five turnovers in Clemson’s first loss at Littlejohn this season.
“I think you have to give (Duke) some credit,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said afterward. “I thought they did a good job of guarding and finding him and making sure he had tough looks.
“He needed to make more plays off the bounce. When they are guarding you that hard, you don’t just keep backing up and shoot quicker … you have to make some adjustments to attack some paint occasionally and do a few more things.”
Brownell did not want to be too hard on his senior, who has been playing lights out since fellow senior Donte Grantham went down with a season-ending knee injury last month. He chalked it up to just one of those days.
“Those nights happen,” he said.
But Duke’s zone just did not bother DeVoe. The Tigers (20-6, 9-5 ACC) made just 8 of their 33 shots in the second half and were just 2-of-9 from behind the arc. Overall, Clemson just made 5-of-20 three-pointers, the first time in five games the Tigers failed to hit at least 10 three-pointers.
“Obviously, again, Marcquise (Reed) did not shoot the ball very good tonight. That is part of it,” Brownell said. “I’m sure the timing was not quite as good without Shelton because of that, but you have to make adjustments. They have very good guards so you have to make your own adjustments.”
Reed finished the game with a team-high 13 points, but he made just 3-of-14 shots and was 1-for-6 from downtown.
Clemson finished the game with 13 turnovers to go with the bad shooting. It was without a doubt Duke’s best game defensively all year. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said they benefited a lot from DeVoe missing a few three-pointers that rattled in and out on Sunday.
However, Duke’s zone played a role in a lot more of his misses and DeVoe’s five turnovers.
“Look, our main attention was on DeVoe and Reed,” Krzyzewski said. “So, that left, sometimes, other people open and they are right at the top of the scouting report … You go DeVoe, Reed, DeVoe, Reed and DeVoe Reed.
“Make sure you know where those guys are. I do think we are playing our zone very well and we ended up talking better in our zone than in our man. We were able to communicate on where those guys were and we reacted fairly well.”
Clemson will try to end its first two-game losing streak of the season when it travels to Virginia Tech for a seven o’clock tip Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va.