DURHAM, N.C. -- Seventh-ranked Duke didn't need long to make Clemson look as uncomfortable as ever in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
While Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith each had big scoring games, it was the Blue Devils' lockdown first-half defense that put the Tigers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) in a big hole on the way to a 74-53 win Sunday night.
The victory extended Clemson's misery in Cameron -- 15 years and counting -- while giving the Blue Devils a comfortable win against a team picked to finish near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Duke (12-1, 1-0 ACC) held Clemson to just 12 points in the opening half and led by 18 at the break, avenging last year's lopsided loss while handing the Tigers (12-3, 0-1) their 13th straight defeat at college basketball's notoriously hostile arena.
"Our defense, that's what we want to be known for this year," said Scheyer, who scored 19 of his 22 points after halftime. "In the first half, we felt good just because you could see they weren't in a good rhythm. ... For the rest of the game, we didn't really let them get back into it."
Smith also scored 22 points for Duke, while Kyle Singler added 16 points and eight rebounds. Duke followed its season-high 114 points in Thursday night's win against Penn by shooting 50 percent against the Tigers, including 60 percent after halftime.
Clemson had only recently managed to break Duke's fierce hold of the series, snapping a 22-game losing streak by edging the Blue Devils in the ACC tournament semifinals in 2008. Then last year, the Tigers won the only meeting by a stunning 74-47 score, the most lopsided loss for Duke and Mike Krzyzewski since losing by 30 to UNLV in the 1990 NCAA championship game.
Krzyzewski said his team's approach was far better this time.
"I thought we had weak faces last year down there and we had strong faces today," he said.
Demontez Stitt scored 17 points to lead Clemson, which managed an 11-point run to start the second half and briefly get back in the game. But the Tigers shot 33 percent, missed 13 of 16 3-pointers and seemed to struggle with their composure against perimeter pressure that pushed them farther and farther from the basket in the opening half.
It all added up to another forgettable moment to their recent history of futility in Cameron. Along the way, they've lost in a variety of styles: blowouts; tough, low-scoring battles; even one on a buzzer-beating basket three years ago that included a dose of clock controversy in those final seconds.
This time, the lowlight was Clemson shooting 5 for 30 (17 percent) -- including 6- and 8-minute scoring droughts -- in the first half to trail 30-12 at the break. The first-half scoring output and shooting percentage each ranked as the worst under seventh-year coach Oliver Purnell.
They also finished with as many fouls as points in the half, a fact the Cameron Crazies gleefully reminded them of with chants of "12 Fouls! 12 Points!" as the teams headed for the locker rooms.
"You've got to play more than one half in this building," Purnell said. "We obviously stunk it up offensively in the first half with unforced turnovers and non-execution stuff. We showed our youth a little bit, but even our veterans didn't do a good job offensively. We weren't patient enough to get the ball inside."
So much of Duke's success began with how they slowed preseason all-ACC pick Trevor Booker. He finished with 10 points on 4 for 11 shooting, five points fewer than his team-leading scoring average.
"They did a good job of getting in passing lanes and denying passes to the post," Booker said. "I think overall that was their game plan -- to limit my touches and make other people score."
After Clemson's 11-0 flurry to open the second half, the Blue Devils reasserted themselves. First came a layup from Smith off a turnover, followed by a basket off a loose rebound from freshman Mason Plumlee. Then, Scheyer stole the ensuing inbound pass in the backcourt and quickly launched a 3-pointer that swished through, pushing what had been a 10-point lead back up to 42-25 with 13:52 left.
"We took advantage of what they gave us," Duke senior Lance Thomas said, "and when that run came, we handled it very maturely and closed the game out."