Tigers hope their defense can end long losing streak at Duke

Tigers hope their defense can end long losing streak at Duke

Basketball

Tigers hope their defense can end long losing streak at Duke

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Clemson has not won at Cameron since 1995

There is no secret to what brings Clemson success. The Tigers have to get it done on the defensive end of the basketball court.

This past Wednesday, Clemson held No. 25 Louisville to its lowest point total and shooting percentage of the season in a 54-50 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. Now the Tigers hope to duplicate that effort today when it visits Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., for a noon tip.

“Our defense was outstanding. I think we forced three shot clock violations in the first half. We took some charges,” head coach Brad Brownell said after the win over the Cardinals.

The Tigers now hope to win at Duke, something they have not done since the January 4, 1995. Clemson is just 4-61 all-time at Duke. The Tigers have lost 18 straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

This is the most vulnerable Duke team the Tigers have faced in quite some time. The Blue Devils are just 6-5 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. Today’s matchup marks the first time that Clemson will face off against a Duke team that is not ranked since 1996.

The win over Louisville stopped the bleeding from a three-game losing streak that saw Clemson (10-4, 4-4 ACC) give up 85, 83 and 80 points to No. 8 Virginia, Georgia Tech and No. 16 Florida State. Prior to the three-game skid, the Tigers had not allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points in the first 10 games of the season, while leading the ACC in scoring defense and defensive efficiency.

Clemson was 9-1 in those 10 games.

“(Monday and Tuesday) we had some very demanding practices,” Brownell said. “We had a couple of practices between Virginia and Georgia Tech to try to solve some things, then we turned the ball over twenty times against Georgia Tech. Our defense was not that good, but that made it worse.

“Then you kind of flip into the Florida State game and I did not make a good decision to just focus on fundamentals. We probably game planned too much in that short amount of prep time and did not play well.”

The Tigers went the other way against Louisville. In Brownell’s tenure as head coach at Clemson, the Tigers are a combined 48-2 when they allow 50 or less points to its opponent.

They have won their last 27 contests in which they have allowed 50 or less points. Wednesday’s win was the first time in ACC play this season and the third time overall, Clemson allowed 50 points or less in a game. The Tigers held Mississippi State to 42 points and S.C. State to 39 points in two games earlier in the season.

“We did not do nearly as much Louisville prep as we normally do for a game, and we just did a lot of basic drills that you do in September,” Brownell said. “And we just kept doing, doing it and doing it. We tried to make sure our guys understood the value of that and that we had no second and third line of defense the last ten days.

“The first line of defense when you get beat is you have to have support behind it, and we have not had it. Tonight, we did. Tonight, we were great. I thought we flew around and scrambled, fire, flood and dropped on baseline drives. Just gapping back and did the things we need to do to be a good defensive team.”

Clemson held Louisville to 32 percent shooting from the floor. The Cardinals came into the game leading the ACC in shooting.

“We played with better energy,” Brownell said. “Again, when you are not making shots that is not as easy to do as people think. It is hard to sustain and so I am proud of our guys for the win, but I am proud of the way we won the game, because that is how we are going to have to win some of these games.”

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