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Duke Mauls Clemson, 89-60
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Duke Mauls Clemson, 89-60
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Duke Mauls Clemson, 89-60
By Rob Clough
February 8, 2015

Analysis and Stats (JS)

In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: Once again, it was offensive balance. Three different players hit treys, which helped loosen things up enough down low such that the Tigers were always a step behind in defending Duke's bigs (44 paint points).

Why Clemson Lost: 20 turnovers against a team that doesn't press much and plays a lot of zone was a big problem for Clemson. While they actually played hard and didn't give up, and several players shot well (Shelbie Davenport was 5-13, Dixon was 3-6, Alexis Carter was 5-6), Clemson didn't have much balance on offense. They got nothing offensively from their young posts and didn't do enough to force Duke into mistakes.

The Game Turned When...: .Azurá Stevens hit a jumper right before halftime. That made the margin 15 points and clearly deflated a Tiger club that was on the verge of making the kind of run that might have cut the lead to under 10 points. Instead, Stevens hit that shot and Duke put the Tigers away early in the second half.

X-Factor: Kendall Cooper. She played aggressively and played smart at the same time, a development that led to an excellent overall game. Her defense was strong, but it was her versatility on offense that made her such a tough cover.

Areas For Improvement: Finishing in the post. Duke went through some droughts when players rushed shots just enough in the post to miss. The same thing happened a couple of times when Duke seemingly had a fast break layup but couldn't quite complete the play.

Ramifications: Duke clinched a winning season in the ACC and is one step closer to an NCAA berth and first round hosting possibilities. Clemson is currently not headed to postseason play, as Smith is simply trying to survive in the ACC while nurturing her young talent (8 frosh) and hoping they improve next year.

Did Not Want: Dixon with more than 20 points. Dixon scored 17, and many of them came after the game was already decided.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams


Liz nearly had a triple-double, and those 9 assists were what impressed me the most. She started the game with a dish from the low post out to Cooper for a wide-open jumper after Clemson double-teamed her, which is precisely the sort of play she's been needing to make all year. Later, she again beat a double-team by finding Johnson open for a three. She had a ridiculous tap-back offensive rebound right to Cooper for a score and later found Greenwell open for a three. A drive and drive to a cutting Mathias was another perfect delivery, as Liz only had 1 turnover. She also showed off an arsenal of post moves, including a spinning pivot move for a layup that left her defender baffled. She was the beneficiary of many excellent passes from the high post and the wing and of course menaced Clemson defensively. Even her fouls were dramatic, as she sent opponents flying.

Kendall Cooper


The Cooper we saw in this game was not the one we've seen for much of the rest of the year. She was focused, smooth, aggressive and confident. She noted that she's not playing for herself, she's playing for Oderah, and that assertion seems to have gone a long way in keeping her focused. Always a good shooter in theory, Cooper nailed a 17' jumper to start the game. She took the shot in stride and did not hesitate, unlike other times when she's had the ball. Later in the half, she scored six straight points on a fadeaway jumper, a turnaround in the post and a simple finish near the hoop off an offensive rebound by Williams. In the second half, she found Stevens inside, hit three foul shots and did nice work on the boards. Her most memorable play was a block on the wing of a three that nearly decapitated a Clemson player sitting on the sidelines. The power of that block earned accolades even from the Tiger bench, but McCallie mentioned that the block was less important than the fact that the team finished the play by getting a stop after Clemson inbounded the ball with three seconds left on the clock.

Azurá Stevens


One of the best things about Stevens right now is that she's sloughing off rough starts in terms of her shooting and just keeps going. Early in this game, she missed some shots but found Williams on two scoring strikes. Then she drove in for that deadly runner of hers, scored on a drive and then finished the half with a momentum-altering stickback at the buzzer. She then scored the first five points of the second half and finished her scoring with a spectacular lob layup. She was a terror on the defensive end as well, using her long arms to generate steals and block shots as well as hustling to cause two tie-ups. As long as Stevens stays aggressive, she will score points.

Rebecca Greenwell


Rebecca once again piled up a bunch of points and made it look easy. She scored in transition, got to the foul line, hit a couple of threes and grabbed 4 boards in a highly productive first half. She hit a short jumper, scored on her trademark reverse layup that uses the rim to shield her against opponents and hit 2 foul shots after a spectacular steal by Johnson as Duke started to pull away and sank a trey that made it a 26 point lead. There were times when she got a little cute with the ball, attempting difficult drives after passing up on an open shot, but I see that partly as an attempt to continue diversifying her game.

Ka'lia Johnson


KJ hit an early three that clearly frustrated the Tigers, who were playing Duke for the jump shot. While she had some nice passes (including an early breakaway to Greenwell for a score and a later steal that led to a Greenwell three), her hallmark in this game was relentless pressure defense. Clemson actually takes care of the ball fairly well in most games (they averaged about 15 turnovers a game coming into this contest), and Duke forced them into 20 turnovers--13 of them steals, and 6 of them from Johnson. Duke managed to play zone but also applied a lot of pressure out of their halfcourt traps, and KJ either got outright steals or tapped a lot of balls to teammates.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Amber Henson


This was a solid role-playing performance for Amber, who scored on a pass from Williams but mostly did the job on the boards and with passing. She found Riggs for a trey and found Stevens inside. She missed three jump shots, but they were perfectly reasonable attempts that just didn't go in. Henson will be needed for as many minutes as she can physically play down the stretch this year.

Mercedes Riggs


While Mercedes wasn't as strong with the ball as she needed to be (2 turnovers), she had a spectacular lob to Stevens for a score and acted as a nice floor-spacer, nailing a couple of threes. She needs to take that shot without hesitation when she is passed the ball and she's open in order to make opposing defenses pay.

Erin Mathias


After one play where she was weak with the ball and got it stripped late in the game, Coach McCallie pulled her and gave her an earful. Interestingly, it wasn't to lambast her for the error, but rather to tell her to lose the hangdog expression after the mistake, that "basketball is a game of mistakes" and the key is to come back and make a play. Erin actually had a decent game, scoring on a turnaround jumper and on a cut, and finding Williams inside. With Duke's rotation being whittled down to the bone, Mathias needs to prove that she can compete on a consistent basis, because given her size and versatility, she could be a difference-maker for a team that needs another one.

Jenna Frush


Jenna got in at the two minute mark and sank a pair of foul shots.

Duke Mauls Clemson, 89-60
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Duke Mauls Clemson, 89-60
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