A 62-63 heartbreaking loss to Duke knocked Clemson out of the ACC tournament late Friday night. The sixth seeded Tigers played a great game against the third seeded Duke Blue Devils, who are rank number seven in the entire country, but some late game action prevented Clemson from earning a season sweep versus Duke. In the second half, the Devils led by as much as thirteen before Clemson came storming back to bring the game to a one point Duke lead with 1:44 left. After Demarcus Harrison’s layup, Rasheed Sulaimon was fouled by Clemson on the other end of the court. He missed one of his two free throws, giving Duke a two point lead. On Clemson’s next possession KJ McDaniels was fouled. He also only made one of his two free throws. With a one point lead, Duke let some clock run before Sulaimon attempted a layup. His attempt was no good, and Clemson center Landry Nnoko pulled down the rebound and fed the ball to point guard Rod Hall, who drove inside the arc and sank a clutch shot to give Clemson a 62-61 lead with 9 seconds. Duke Gave the ball to forward Rodney Hood, who drove down the court and began losing control of himself as he approached the basket. He made contact with Tiger forward KJ McDaniels, who was then called for a foul. No review of the foul was issued, but replay shows Hood stumbling into McDaniels, who made no attempt at a “reach in”. Hood made both free throws giving Duke the lead with over 3 seconds left. Clemson put the ball back in Hall’s hands, who drove down to the goal, but had the ball knocked away as he went in for the shot. No foul was called, however upon looking at the replay (and the picture above), it appears as though contact was made by Marcus Thorton of Duke. Hall also looked to have began his shooting motion, so not only could a foul have been called, but it could have been called a shooting foul, similar to the one called on McDaniels seconds earlier. With no foul called, the clock expired and Duke held on to a one point win. After the game, Hall said “It was the same play and I thought they were going to call the foul, but they didn’t. There was contact going up and when I was driving to the basket, but they didn’t call it.” Hall led the team with 13 points, while KJ McDaniels contributed 12 despite battling a shoulder injury. Nnoko had 10 points and 8 rebounds, while guard Jordan Roper came off the bench for 11 points. The loss eliminates the Tigers from the ACC tournament. The team will learn their postseason destination Sunday night. Clemson will more than likely miss the cut for the NCAA Tournament, but should earn a bid to the National Invitational Tournament. This could provide the Tigers another chance to play in Littlejohn Coliseum in either the first round, second round, or both. Clemson sits at 20-12 over all, and 10-8 in the ACC. Clemson has exceeded the expectations the media placed on the team this year, and can look to continue the growth of this young team in the postseason.
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