Greensboro, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils finally get their postseason underway, as they take on the Clemson Tigers in Friday's quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
The winner of this game will move into Saturday's semifinal round against either NC State or Syracuse.
Duke was in the running for the conference crown for a while, but just couldn't cover the ground between itself and the consistent Cavaliers. Losses on the road at North Carolina and Wake Forest late left Mike Krzyzewski's team on the outside looking in, but a big win over arch rival North Carolina in the regular-season finale gave the Blue Devils the third-seed. The winningest program in ACC Tournament history, Duke owns a 91-41 tournament record, with a record 19 tournament crowns to its credit.
Behind some of the best defensive play in the country, Clemson was able to earn the sixth-seeded in this event with a 10-8 league ledger. As a result, the Tigers were exempt from first-round action. They were taken to the limit however, in Thursday's second round, outlasting Georgia Tech in overtime, 69-65. The win was the 20th on the season for Clemson, marking its 13th 20-win campaign in school history.
The Blue Devils hold a huge 105-30 edge in the all-time series with Clemson, but the Tigers won the only meeting during the regular season, recording a 72-59 win over Duke at Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan. 11.
Clemson came back from a nine-point second-half deficit to force overtime and then prevailed over the Yellow Jackets in the extra session to continue on in this event. The Tigers didn't shoot the ball particularly well, converting just .370 from the floor overall, but held Georgia Tech to a similar outing (.369). All-ACC First-Teamer K.J. McDaniels led the way for Clemson with 18 points. Damarcus Harrison and Rod Hall joined him in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Allowing just 57.6 ppg, the Tigers finished in the top five in the nation in scoring defense. Opponents shot just .397 from the floor against Clemson this year (tied for second in the ACC), including a league-low .281 from behind the arc. McDaniels has had a big season en route to all-conference accolades, averaging 17.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Hall is a distant second in the scoring column at 9.6 ppg, but tops on the team in assists (122).
Offensive proficiency was the key in Durham this season, as Duke led the ACC in scoring (79.8 ppg), 3-point field-goal percentage (.393) and 3-pointers made (9.2 per game). Freshman phenom Jabari Parker certainly lived up to the hype and could be one-and-done in Durham. The 6-8 youngster finished second in the ACC in scoring (19.2 ppg) and first in rebounding (9.0 rpg), en route to All-ACC First-Team honors and ACC Freshman of the Year. Fellow newcomer Rodney Hood uses his 3-point acumen to fill up the basket to the tune of 16.5 ppg (ninth in the ACC), earning Second-Team honors. Point guard Quinn Cook rounds out the top scoring threats on the Duke roster at 11.4 ppg, and also serves as the team's top distributor (4.5 apg). Other playmakers of note include Rasheed Sulaimon (9.5 ppg), Andre Dawkins (8.4 ppg) and Amile Jefferson (6.5 ppg).