Duke guard Nolan Smith, the ACC Player of the Year, may miss Saturday's conference tournament semifinals after injuring the second toe on his left foot in Friday's 87-71 quarterfinal victory over Maryland.
Smith sustained the injury late in the second half with the Blue Devils leading 65-60. They pulled away without him as All-ACC forward Kyle Singler regained his scoring touch with a game-high 29 points.
Smith scored seven points, his second-lowest total this season, on 2-of-11 shooting.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Smith's status wouldn't be known until Saturday.
Duke (28-4) plays the winner of Thursday's late game between Virginia Tech and Florida State.
"I thought our guys really stepped up when Nolan went down," Krzyzewski said. "They showed big hearts, good spirits."
Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly scored 11 points each, brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee 10 each.
Oddly, Smith was hurt on the night when injured teammate Kyrie Irving was in uniform and jogging on the Greensboro Coliseum court during warmups. But by tip-off, Irving was back in street clothes, as he's been since injuring a toe Dec. 4 against Butler. Irving was Duke's, if not the ACC's, best player before the injury.
A dozen seasons at UNC Wilmington taught Brad Brownell plenty about the ACC tournament.
"The pageantry, the tradition, the history," Clemson's first-year coach said. "I've known about it and watched and having lived in North Carolina for 12 years, you're inundated with it. It's great to be a part of it, especially when our team plays the way it did today. I was very proud of them, and this was a good and a great experience."
Brownell's Tigers punished Boston College from start to finish in Friday's ACC quarterfinals, 70-47, likely cementing themselves into the NCAA tournament. Demontez Stitt, Clemson's all-conference guard, had game-highs of 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The victory advances Clemson (21-10) to Saturday's semifinals against top-seeded North Carolina. The Tar Heels swept the Tigers during the regular season.
"I would hope so," Brownell said of Clemson being an NCAA lock. "I've heard 'elimination game' for our team at least the last two games, if not more than that. I think these guys (Stitt and forward Jerai Grant) have responded every time and played exceptionally well, and we're riding their coattails."
Brownell coached at Wright State in Ohio for four seasons before replacing Oliver Purnell at Clemson. Now at DePaul, Purnell guided the Tigers to the NCAA tournament in the final three of his seven years, but they went 0-3.
Add three consecutive ACC tournament setbacks, and Friday snapped a six-game postseason skid.
"We trust the new coaching staff and what they're trying to do," Stitt said. "A good win for us, a good win for the program, a good win for the Clemson family."
The biggest change in Clemson is defense. The Tigers lead the ACC in scoring defense at 60.4 points per game, their best average since joining the conference in 1953-54.
"We're starting to buy into the defensive game and half-court more than we have in the past," Stitt said.
"We're better-conditioned," Grant said. "I think that's really essential going into postseason."
BC's postseason fate?
Friday's loss drops Boston College to 20-12, and with only one victory over a top 50 RPI team, Texas A&M, the Eagles will sweat Sunday's selection show.
"Obviously, I think we should be in," said first-year coach Steve Donahue, who took Cornell to the Sweet 16 last season. "You get so emotionally tied to these things. I don't know if it does any good, anyway. … I want people to respect us and what we've done. If that's good enough, great. If it's not, we'll wait."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun