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Clemson holds on late to knock off No. 3 Duke

Clemson's Aamir Simms grabs a rebound while defended by Duke's Vernon Carey Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

While it had to fend off a late push to seal the deal, Clemson seems to have avenged its loss to LSU in the national championship game on Tuesday night. 

Well, at least somewhat.

After grabbing an early lead, the Tigers held on late to knock off No. 3 Duke, 79-72, at Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday, handing the Blue Devils their second loss of the season. 

“I’m so proud of my teammates and I love my school,” Clemson forward Aamir Simms said, via the Associated Press.

While it led for most of the contest, Clemson saw its nine-point advantage disappear with just six minutes left in the game. The Tigers, though, turned it on and finished the night on a 20-10 run to keep Duke at bay for the seven-point win.

Simms led the Tigers with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds, shooting 10 of 15 from the field. Tevin Mack added 22 points and nine rebounds, and John Newman finished with 14 points.

Vernon Carey Jr. led the Blue Devils with 20 points and seven rebounds. Tre Jones added 17 points, and Cassius Stanley finished with 14. Duke had 15 turnovers on the night, including nine in the first half, and got outrebounded 35-27.

“Our kids have to understand how hard it is to win,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzweski said. “We’ve been winning, and they’ve been terrific. But when you’re in conference, all these games, people are hungry. And if you win a lot, sometimes you’re not as [hungry] as the other team.”

The Tigers have won three straight following their 79-76 overtime win against North Carolina on Saturday, which marked their first win over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and caused North Carolina coach Roy Williams to call it the lowest moment in his storied coaching career. Clemson hasn’t beaten both Duke and North Carolina in back-to-back games since the 1989-90 season.

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