Duke fends off Clemson in ACC Tournament play

(AP image)

NEW YORK (AP) — Luke Kennard made two clutch jumpers in the final 2:04 to help No. 14 Duke thwart a rally by Clemson and advance to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament with a 79-72 victory Wednesday.

The fifth-seeded Blue Devils (24-8) play fourth-seeded and No. 8 Louisville on Thursday at Barclays Center.

Kennard took a while to find his shot but finished with 20 points. Freshmen Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson each scored 20 and picked up the slack while Kennard was cold.

Jaron Blossomgame led Clemson (17-15) with 19 points and eight rebounds.

“We didn’t shoot well in the first half” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

But by the time the second-half rolled around, Coach Krzyzewski was singing a different tune.

Duke built a 13-point lead midway through the second half but could not put away Clemson. Marcquise Reed converted a 3-point play with 2:51 left in the game to cut Duke’s lead to 69-68 and get the small contingent of Tigers fans in Barclays, plus any Duke haters in the crowd, pumped up.

Kennard answered with a jumper to push the lead back to three. He dropped in a fall-away from the baseline with 1:14 left to up the lead to 75-70.

“In the second half Luke [Kennard], Jayson [Tatum] hit big buckets and Frank [Jackson] has played great for us,” Krzyzewski said.

BIG PICTURE

Clemson: The Tigers came into the game having lost 10 games by six points or fewer, including a two-point loss to Duke during the regular season. File another one under missed opportunities for Clemson. The Tigers were 24 for 26 from the foul line but didn’t have the 3-point shooting to provide balance and answers for Duke’s proficient offense.

Duke: With Grayson Allen nursing a sore ankle and coming off the bench at the end of the season, Jackson has played his best ball since the nonconference schedule. He had averaged 17.6 points per game in the last three regular-season games. Jackson gives Duke a true point guard instead of coach Mike Krzyzewski having to force Allen in at the point.

ALLEN T’D UP

Allen was called for a technical foul for a second straight game when he slammed the ball on the floor after getting called for a loose ball foul.

He was whistled for running into Blossomgame. Allen grabbed the bouncing ball as he moved toward the corner of the court on the opposite side of the benches. He then slammed the ball down in obvious anger and was hit with a technical, giving him three personal fouls. His next stop was the bench.

Allen received a technical in the season finale against North Carolina on Saturday for throwing an elbow as he drove by a defender. The fiery junior forward was suspended for a game earlier this season after he tripped an opponent for the third time in his career. Allen finished scoreless and 0 for 4 from the field in this one.

UP NEXT

Clemson: The Tigers hope to get an NIT bid.

Duke: The Blue Devils lost their only meeting with Louisville this season, falling 78-69 on the road.

CBS North Carolina contributed to this report

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