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Smith Leads No. 7 Duke Past No. 17 Clemson, 60-47
Courtesy: Associated Press
Release: 01/23/2010
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Nolan Smith and Lance Thomas celebrate following Duke’s 60-47 win over Clemson on Saturday night. Smith led the Blue Devils with 22 points, while Thomas added 13 points and seven rebounds in the victory.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
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CLEMSON, S.C. - Duke guard Jon Scheyer's not sure anything totally wipes out his team's awful loss at Clemson last year.

The Blue Devils' latest effort at Littlejohn Coliseum, though, certainly helps.

Nolan Smith scored 22 points and No. 7 Duke held the 17th-ranked Tigers to their lowest point total at home in seven years in a 60-47 victory Saturday night.

It was a drastic reversal from 2009, when the Blue Devils suffered their most lopsided loss in almost 20 years here, 74-47.

"For us, we weren't really trying to make up for anything," Scheyer said. "It's a new year. We were 3-2 in our conference and now we're 4-2. That's what we were thinking about."

Still, it was a much happier bunch of Blue Devils (16-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) who ran off the court here than after last year's embarrassment.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called time in the final moments, urging his players to soak in the cheers of Clemson fans.

This time, Krzyzewski was proud of his players' resiliency, poise and effort confronting the same packed house of Clemson crazies.

"We knew Clemson was ready, the community was ready," Krzyzewski said. "To come in here and win, our guys should feel good about that."

Duke also should feel good about Smith, who fueled a 14-2 second-half run as the Blue Devils took control.

Smith had 9 points in the surge as Duke moved in front 43-30 with 12:33 left. Clemson could not get closer than 6 points the rest of the way.

Trevor Booker led the Tigers (15-5, 3-3) with 22 points.

It was Clemson's fewest points at home since a 52-47 loss to Maryland on Jan. 25, 2003. Booker got little help from his teammates - while Clemson's star made 10 of 14 shots, the rest of the Tigers were just 8 of 34.

Duke broke free from a 23-all halftime tie with six straight points to open the second half. After Clemson cut the lead to 29-28, Smith and the Blue Devils put things away.

Kyle Singler started the run with a 3-pointer, then Smith added another from long range. After Singler's driving basket, Smith scored the next six points to put Duke ahead by 13.

Lance Thomas added 13 points, Singler had 12 and Scheyer 11 for Duke, which bounced back from a midweek defeat at North Carolina State.

"Outside of Cameron, I think this is the toughest place in the ACC to play," Duke's Smith said. "To get the monkey off our back here after being embarrassed, it definitely means a lot to us."

Clemson lost its second straight to a ranked ACC opponent after falling at Georgia Tech this past Tuesday.

Clemson fans were ready for this one, even if their team wasn't.

ESPN College GameDay broadcast from Littlejohn and about 4,000 orange-clad early risers turned out 10 hours before tip-off. A sign in the crowd before gametime summed up the mood: "Breathe if you hate Duke."

After all, many in the crowd were still jacked up from the Blue Devils' last visit - the 27-point Clemson victory here last winter was Duke's most lopsided defeat since the 1990 national championship loss to UNLV.

"The crowd was great until we took them out of it," Clemson's Booker said.

It's not as if Duke doesn't know how to succeed at Littlejohn. Before last year's loss, the Blue Devils had won nine straight on Clemson's home floor.

Duke got a measure of payback earlier this month, a 74-53 win over the Tigers at Cameron Indoor Stadium to open ACC play. In that one, Clemson was a miserable 5 of 30 in the opening half to fall behind 30-12.

This time, both teams struggled to find offense early. The Blue Devils were 2 of 6 from 3-point range and made just one of four foul shots.

Clemson did even worse from the outside, going 1 of 6 from behind the arc. While Booker was 5 of 7 in the half, his teammates were a combined 3 of 15.

Each team committed 11 turnovers against lockdown pressure.

Duke's Smith hit a 3-pointer with 1:29 left in the period to tie things at 23.

Clemson did its part to keep the atmosphere going. One of the Tigers all-time greats, center Larry Nance, was introduced during a timeout. Football star C.J. Spiller got an award at halftime, telling the cheering crowd to help the Tigers pull out a victory in the second half.

The Blue Devils avoided their first 0-4 slide on the road since 1981-82, although they're 4-0 this season at neutral sites.

Before the game, Clemson held a moment of silence for Gaines Adams, the former Tigers and 26-year-old Chicago Bears defensive end who died of an enlarged heart last Sunday. The Greenwood native was buried Friday after a funeral service about 20 minutes from campus.