If Clemson was looking for a positive note to take away from the 68-40 loss to Duke, it wouldn’t have to look any further than its 6’8 center, Devin Booker. The Union County product not only finished the game with a double-double, he also handled Duke forward Mason Plumlee in the paint. Plumlee was held to below double digits for the first time this season — his eight points, 13 rebounds and five assists was the lowest offensive output he’s had since his junior year.
“Holding their best player to only eight points means I did a pretty good job on defense,” said Booker. “I should have scored more but overall I think I did well. A win would have made me feel even better though.”
Had there been five Devin Bookers on the court, things might’ve shaped up differently. As it was, the Tigers had their hands full with the top ranked Blue Devils.
“I thought Devin did a great job,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “We didn’t give him much help defensively. It was just two good players going at it. It was really physical down there, and the officials let ‘em play, and that was good. For both guys, the baskets they made, they earned. Both are physical rebounders and don’t give an inch. I’m proud of the way Devin competed tonight.”
Clemson struggled offensively throughout the first half. At intermission, the Tigers trailed 25-10 after making just three first-half field goal. Their 10 points tied the second lowest output for an opponent during the Mike Krzyzewski era.
The Blue Devils shot 9-of-31 (29 percent) from the field in the first half, a season low — but the production of Quinn Cook was enough to carry them past Clemson.
Cook went 12-of-16 from the floor and shot a career-high 27 points, a night-and-day difference from his 0-for-11 performance against Wake Forest in Duke’s last outing.
Booker paced the Tigers with 12 points, connecting on 5-of-11 shot attempts and pulled down 15 rebounds.
“Booker is their best player,” declared Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. “If Booker doesn’t have a dominant performance, we have a better chance of winning.”
Playing in what is arguably the most widely known college basketball arena in the country often takes its toll on Duke’s adversaries. But Booker, one of two Clemson veterans, knew what to expect and was seemingly un-phased by the chaotic atmosphere of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“My first time playing there it might have affected my performance just because I wasn’t used to that type of environment,” said Booker. “This time I zoned out everything and just played my game.”
Booker, who was coming off a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against Florida State, has now scored in double figures in five of his last six games. With his 15 rebounds on Tuesday, he moved past David Angel into 20th place on Clemson’s all-time list.