On Saturday, Clemson notched its first ever win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. How do you follow that up? By beating the No. 3 team in the country.
That is what the Tigers did on Tuesday at Littlejohn as they won their third straight ACC game with a 79-72 victory over No. 3 Duke at Littlejohn Coliseum. It was Clemson’s first win over a top-5 Duke team since February 4, 2009.
It was Clemson’s first win over a top-3 team since beating No. 1 North Carolina in 2001. It also marked the Tigers’ first time beating Duke and UNC in back-to-back games since 1989-90.
Aamir Simms led the Tigers with a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting with nine rebounds, while Tevin Mack scored 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting and also had nine rebounds in the stunning victory. John Newman, meanwhile, went 5-of-7 from the field and netted 14 points.
The Tigers shot 57 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range, while the Blue Devils shot 50 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
With the win, Clemson improved its record to 9-7 overall and 3-3 in the ACC.
Clemson led by 9 points early in the second half, but as expected, Duke (15-2, 5-1) rallied behind point guard Tre Jones and Vernon Carey. The Blue Devils went on a 15-3 run to grab a 55-52 lead on a Carey layup at the 9:55 mark. Jones gave Duke its first lead of the second half, 53-52, with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
However, Simms and Mack were not going to be outdone. The Tigers hung tough and tied the game 59-59 with a Simms 3-pointer with 7:57 left in the game.
Clemson took the lead for good when Simms made a layup to make the score 63-62, and then Mack followed with a shot of his own to extend the lead to 65-62 with 4:48 left.
The Tigers extended their lead from there, grabbing a 73-65 lead with a driving bucket and-1 at the 2:16 mark. Later, after a 3-pointer from Duke’s Jordan Goldwire, John Newman answered with a 3 from the right wing with 1:54 remaining to make the score 76-68. Then, Newman put the dagger in the Blue Devils’ chest with 22 seconds left when he made a layup for a 78-70 advantage.
Clemson will return to action this Saturday, Jan. 18, when they play NC State in Raleigh at 2 p.m.