'We were just hungry'

Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame scored 14 points and had 14 rebounds to help the Tigers knock off No. 16 Duke, 72-59, on Saturday.

Better body language, great verve, a rowdy crowd and a lot of hunger.

There were no strategic changes, no cosmetic alterations to Clemson's men's basketball team. No grand recipe for recovering from a listless 15-point loss to a mediocre Florida State visitor, coming back to play less than 48 hours later and saying, "Hey, let's go beat Duke."

Clemson went and beat Duke. A 72-59 shocker, a 180-degree makeover from worst loss of the year to best victory of the Tigers' tenures for not just fourth-year coach Brad Brownell, but also anybody on his roster.

The capacity crowd of 9,842 at Littlejohn Coliseum came for the Orange Bowl champion football team's welcome home, and stayed for the basketball team's high-flying rebounding effort that sparked energy throughout the building for more than two hours Saturday.

Florida State slaughtered Clemson in the paint, a 44-16 points advantage. Clemson turned the tables, outscoring Duke in the post 38-20

"Their kids played so hard, and it started from the get-go," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "From the start you could tell they had a great verve."

This was just Clemson's (11-4, 2-1 ACC) third defeat of Duke in its last 30 tries, snapping a 1-11 stretch on the Tigers' home floor.

Downsizing in opponent - where FSU favors trees in the post, Duke prefers pro prospects on the perimeter - three different Tigers in the frontcourt responded with double-doubles, the rarest of collective feats.

Junior forward K.J. McDaniels (24 points, 10 rebounds), sophomore center Landry Nnoko (10 points, 13 rebounds) and freshman forward Jaron Blossomgame (14 points, 14 rebounds) set the afternoon on fire, outrebounding the entire Duke team by themselves 37-30.

It was the first time since a Feb. 13, 1985 win over Wake Forest that three Clemson players produced double-doubles.

"We were just hungry," McDaniels said. "The rebounding, that started a lot of the breaks for us. We were just hungry, honestly."

Overall, the Tigers enjoyed an 18-rebound advantage, one of the team's tops in the Brownell era.

"We just had to eat. That's what we've been saying," Nnoko said. "We just had to go to the boards, and that's what we did all night."

Duke (12-4, 1-2) led 37-31 at halftime, a similar margin to FSU's 21-16 advantage two nights ago. But the mentality inside the home locker room couldn't be more different.

"Coach talked to a couple guys today about our body language. We have to stay positive with each other," Blossomgame said. "We go down against Florida State, and nobody really tried to rally everybody up. Tonight, I think everybody focused on getting everybody excited to play. We got down a little bit at halftime, a lot of the guys were focused on taking the lead and pushing it."

The Tigers, remarkably, outscored the mighty Blue Devils 41-22 in the second half, never losing their rhythm after coming out with a great start.

They closed things out the way Brownell prefers: defense. Duke went 0 for 11 from the floor in the final 6:23, shooting a season-worst 33.9 percent.

"I play differently than (former coach) Oliver (Purnell) did; we don't run around and shoot a million shots," Brownell said. "As we continue to recruit better players, I think we'll start to play faster and faster, but I am a defensive-minded coach. I believe you win with defense. If you research my teams, we have good defensive teams, we're going to be tough-minded, physical, gritty. And as you watch games like this, you'll begin to appreciate how hard the guys on your team are playing."

On a day where Dabo Swinney brought his gridiron guys over for a visit, Brownell related his slow-it-down style to one of the football coach's most famous predecessors.

"We're three yards and a cloud of dust. We're ol' Danny Ford," Brownell said. "So I don't understand why football (fans) don't love us."

Rodney Hood led Duke with 20 points, while presumed lottery pick Jabari Parker chipped in 15. Those two shot 41.3 percent from the field; their teammates shot 26.7 percent.

Entering Saturday, Brownell was 61-49 in his four years at Clemson, including 2-14 against ranked opponents - only upsetting No. 22 Florida State in 2010-11 and No. 22 Virginia in 2011-12. Clemson was 0-6 against top-25 teams last year, and this is its first victory over a team in the top 16 since Jan. 13, 2010, against No. 12 North Carolina.

"We haven't fared well against the best teams in the league," Brownell said. "But I don't think many teams have, and it's one of those situations where we weren't as good.

"We lost a lot after my first year. We've had to work to build it back. It's going to take even more time. Most people don't want to hear it, and that's fine. I get it. But that's the way it is; if you're trying to do it the right way, you're going to have to build. You're going to have to recruit guys who are gonna be here a while and get experiences like this one."

There's the rub; the progress of beating Duke can be undone by going down at Virginia Tech next Wednesday, or suffering a losing streak on its five-road-games-in-15-days stretch coming up in a few weeks.

"This win is going to be something real big for this program," Blossomgame said. "And we want to keep it rolling throughout ACC play. We're just getting started right now."