Duke coach Mike Krzykewski came away as impressed with one of Clemson’s players as any of his own following the teams’ tightly contested matchup Tuesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
In what eventually became a 71-69 loss for the Tigers, PJ Hall once again paced Clemson with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes, scoring in double figures for the 19th straight game. It wasn’t the most efficient night for the Tigers’ sophomore big, who shot just 6 of 21 from the floor.
But Hall’s work on the glass helped neutralize Duke’s size advantage on the interior with 7-foot-1 center Mark Williams as the Tigers finished plus-8 in rebounding margin (39-31). Hall also showed his offensive versatility by stepping out to shoot a season-high seven 3-pointers, making two of them.
Hall’s performance wasn’t lost on Duke’s Hall of Fame coach, who wasn’t watching the same player who averaged just 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in limited playing time last season as a freshman. The 6-10, 242-pound Hall is Clemson’s leading scorer at more than 14 points per game this season and is also averaging nearly six rebounds.
“Hall is the most improved player on the planet,” Krzykewski said. “He played nine minutes a game last year, and he’s one of the better big guys in the country.”
Krzykewski continued singing Hall’s praises, adding he believes the Spartanburg native has a future beyond the collegiate level in the sport.
“He’s a pro, really, because he can shoot,” Krzykewski said. “He can go out and he’s mobile.”
Hall spent most of the night matched up against Williams, who made it difficult for Hall and the rest of the Tigers to score around the rim with his length. Williams had 10 points, 10 boards and three blocks.
Krzykewski said Williams has improved his lateral quickness over the course of the season, something he said helped against Clemson’s most improved player.
“I see him improving in that area, and he needed to do it (Tuesday) because Hall’s a big-time matchup problem,” he said. “Mark did a good job.”
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