Duke v Clemson

Clemson latest to upset underachieving No. 16 Duke


Duke entered this week as the No. 16 team in the country, the first time in more than six full seasons that the Blue Devils found themselves sitting outside of the top ten of the AP poll.

That ranking isn’t incorrect, either.

Duke is 1-2 in the ACC for the first time since 2007 after losing to Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum, 72-59, on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils are 12-4 for the first time since 1996. The last time Clemson beat Duke? February of 2009.

We’re bordering on unchartered territory for the Blue Devils here, and not because this is the first time that Duke has struggled under Mike Krzyzewski. They’ve slumped and they’ve lost a couple games in a row and they’ve been picked off in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. (Hello, Eric Maynor.) That happens with every team from time-to-time, I don’t care who your coach is.

But this year is different.

Duke’s issues have been evident since the start of the season. Remember, this is the same team that nearly lost to East Carolina and Vermont at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the same team that began the year outside of Kenpom’s top 150 in defensive efficiency. We know that Duke is going to have trouble defending on the perimeter, and we know those defensive issues are going to be exacerbated by the fact that there is no one around the rim to act as rim protector.

We know all that.

But it doesn’t change the fact that the Blue Devils were a mess offensively against the Tigers, who admittedly are a good defensive team but not one that should make this Duke team look that bad.

What do I mean by ‘this Duke team’?

Well, one that includes the potential No. 1 pick in Jabari Parker and a pair of potential lottery picks in Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon. One that also includes an underrated (because he’s inconsistent) point guard in Quinn Cook and a pair of sharpshooting off-guards in Matt Jones and Andre Dawkins.

Coach K has more than enough offensive weapons at his disposal and more talent on his roster than everyone in the country outside of maybe 10 teams, and that’s being generous. So why are they being outscored 41-22 in the second half by a Tiger team that’s bad enough that it could end up getting the coach fired? Why is this group getting outscored 26-9 to close out a league game?

The answer: I don’t know.

And it doesn’t look like Coach K does, either. At least not right now.

Because if he did, Duke wouldn’t be losing at Notre Dame and they wouldn’t be losing at Clemson.

The Blue Devils are underachieving right now. When was the last time you could say that about one of Coach K’s teams?

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.