The Duke Blue Devils narrowly escaped with a 72-71 home win over the Clemson Tigers on Saturday night, extending their Cameron Indoor Stadium winning streak over Clemson to 21 games. The controversial ending, which saw Duke awarded free throws with 1 second left to take the lead, left Clemson head coach Brad Brownell fuming in his postgame press conference.

The free throws were the result of a foul call against Clemson’s Josh Beadle as he contested a drive to the basket by Duke’s Tyrese Proctor. Proctor hit both free throws to give Duke a 72-71 lead after Clemson had gone ahead on PJ Hall free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining.

Brownell voiced frustration with the call and the officiating in general, saying his team “fought their tails off and feel like the game was maybe taken from us a little bit. And that’s it. Shouldn’t be decided like that.”

Duke coach Jon Scheyer defended the call on Proctor and his team’s effort, saying “Tyrese Proctor made a heck of a play at the end to drive it to the basket. And he gets fouled and hits two free throws. He should be celebrated for that.”

The officials were central to the dramatic finish, but questionable shot-making and rebounding had put Duke in danger of losing in the first place. The Blue Devils shot just 41.2% from the field, made only 21-33 free throws, and were outrebounded 42-33.

Clemson capitalized on those Duke struggles, overcoming a 10-point second half deficit to take a 71-70 lead and put Duke’s home dominance of the series in jeopardy. The Tigers looked poised to break through with an upset win with under 2 minutes remaining.

That’s when Duke’s defense tightened and forced four straight Clemson turnovers to keep their hopes alive. Three steals came from freshman guard Jared McCain, including one he took for a fastbreak layup to cut Clemson’s lead to 69-67 with 1:28 left.

Another Duke stop set up a critical score when forward Kyle Filipowski spun baseline for a lefty shot and harm, sinking the basket while being fouled. His made free throw put Duke in front 70-69. But that lead lasted all of 12 seconds as Clemson star PJ Hall went back to the line to give Clemson a 71-70 edge, setting up the hectic, controversial finish.

As Brownell fumed over the officiating, Scheyer chose to focus on the effort that allowed his team to overcome poor shooting and rebounding. Key late-game plays from Proctor and Filipowski highlighted that determination.

“The play that Flip made and the play that Tyrese made were big time,” Scheyer said.

The win moves Duke to 16-6 and keeps them firmly in the NCAA Tournament conversation. Sports betting interest in the Blue Devils should remain high for North Carolina bettors as well. With intense in-state rivalry games with UNC, NC State and Wake Forest still on deck, Duke will have plenty of chances to cash tickets for North Carolina sportsbook users.

Speaking of North Carolina sports betting, the action is just heating up with the recent launch of mobile sports betting in the state. North Carolina sports betting apps from FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM went live on January 26th, bringing legal wagers to Tar Heel State residents for the first time.

The Fanatics Sportsbook is also slated to launch soon in North Carolina. Signing up early with the Fanatics North Carolina promo code NCWAGER can score a $200 free bet offer for new users when the sportsbook goes live.

With Duke back on track after the comeback over Clemson, bettors across North Carolina will be eager to get their action in on the next matchup. Riding this momentum, the Blue Devils will visit in-state rival Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

✅ Fact Checked on January 28, 2024 by Ken Weaver