DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Freshman Zion Williamson had 25 points, 10 rebounds and a spectacular 360-degree dunk, and No. 1 Duke beat Clemson 87-68 on Saturday night in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
RJ Barrett, the ACC’s leading scorer, finished with 13 points while freshman point guard Tre Jones had 10 points and a season-best nine assists. Jack White added 12 points and Marquise Bolden had 11 for the Blue Devils (12-1, 1-0), who shot 48 percent and turned 19 Clemson turnovers into 27 points.
Playing their first game in 16 days, they needed roughly 20 minutes to shake off the rust before scoring the first 14 points of the second half to break it open and cruise to their seventh straight win.
Marcquise Reed scored 15 points, Elijah Thomas finished with 14 and Shelton Mitchell had 11, but the Tigers (10-4, 0-1) had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Williamson — who was recruited hard by Clemson with his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is an hour’s drive from the Tigers’ campus — put on a show after halftime with a pair of slick drives down the lane for layup immediately before Barrett’s jumper gave Duke its first 20-point lead with just under 17 minutes left.
The best slam of Williamson’s highlight-filled freshman season came a few minutes later, with his steal from Mitchell near midcourt leading to his breakaway 360.
Clemson: The strength of the Tigers is their age and experience, with three graduate seniors and a fourth-year senior in the starting lineup. But that experience added up to yet another loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where they haven’t won since 1995 and where they’ve only beaten Mike Krzyzewski twice in nearly four decades.
Duke: ACC openers have been tricky for recent freshman-dominated Blue Devils teams — they hadn’t won one since the 2015-16 season — and this one was borderline tenuous for a half. Then the Zion Show got rolling, and it turned into yet another easy win.