Zion Williamson scored 25 points as No. 1 Duke rolled to an 87-68 victory over the visiting Clemson Tigers in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams Saturday in Durham, N.C.
The Blue Devils, showing no signs of rust following a 15-day layoff, improved to 12-1 with their seventh consecutive victory.
Clemson, which hasn’t defeated Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995, fell to 10-4.
The loss was particularly painful for Clemson, which last January finished runner-up to Duke in a highly publicized recruiting battle for Williamson, who’s from Spartanburg, S.C.
Williamson, a 6-foot-7 freshman, made 9 of 11 shots from the floor and keyed a decisive burst by the Blue Devils at the outset of the second half that proved to be the knockout punch for the Tigers.
Williamson, who scored 20 or more points for the seventh time this season, also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Freshman forward RJ Barrett added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Blue Devils, while junior forward Jack White added 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Junior center Marques Bolden scored 11 points, and freshman guard Tre Jones added 10 for Duke.
Senior guard Marcquise Reed, the ACC’s third-leading scorer, paced Clemson with 15 points. Senior forward Elijah Thomas added 14 points, and senior guard Shelton Mitchell had 11.
Sophomore forward Aamir Simms had 10 rebounds for the Tigers, but made only 1 of 11 shots from the floor.
Clemson led 24-22 with six minutes left in the first half, but Duke went on an 18-9 run to close the half and take a 40-33 lead.
Williamson scored 11 points and had six rebounds in the first half, then put on a show in the second half.
Duke outscored Clemson 24-7 to open the second half, with Williamson scoring eight points in the run and capping the outburst with a steal and 360-degree, one-handed dunk.
That pushed Duke’s lead to 24 points with 12:25 left, and the Tigers never got closer than 19 points the rest of the night.
Duke plays at Wake Forest on Tuesday, while Clemson is at Syracuse on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media