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College basketball roundup: Duke hangs on

The Duke Blue Devils are not having their typical, juggernaut season. Usually, Duke is in the midst of winning some 25 games and getting on the top line of the NCAA Tournament. Instead, this year has been all over the map, with Saturday being no exception.

Duke was able to win at home on Saturday against the woeful Clemson Tigers, earning a 64-62 victory. The Blue Devils were leading by 11 points at the break, seemingly getting ready to pull away for their 20th win of the campaign. However, Clemson would make a run of it, led by the outstanding play of guard Shelton Mitchell and his 23 points.

Ultimately, Duke was able to earn the win with Luke Kennard pouring in a game-high 25 points. With the victory, the Blue Devils are 20-5 and 8-4 within the ACC, moving them up the proverbial ladder only a few weeks out from the conference tournament.

Meanwhile, in the Big 12, the Kansas Jayhawks had to hold on against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. On the road in Lubbock, Kansas was the overwhelming favorite only to run into an underdog with some guts. Texas Tech fell behind by 12 points in the first half before rallying in the second stanza. Texas Tech led by as many as four points in the second half and held a two-point lead in the final two minutes, only to lose in the end.

The No.2 Jayhawks were saved by the superhuman efforts of Josh Jackson, who tallied 31 points and 11 rebounds in a road win that was too close for comfort. At this point, it would be stunning if Kansas doesn’t end up as a top seed in March Madness, while the Red Raiders will be fighting for a spot in the NIT.

All of the other favorites in the early part of the day won without much challenge. The No. 4 Louisville Cardinals were able to hold off the efforts of the Miami Hurricanes, moving toward an ACC title. As for the sixth-ranked Baylor Bears, they rolled over the overmatched TCU Horned Frogs, winning by 18 points.

Staying in the Big 12, Bob Huggins and his West Virginia Mountaineers were able to get a key victory at home over the Kansas State Wildcats. After beating Baylor, it seemed like the Wildcats might make a charge toward the NCAA Tournament, but this loss was a setback. Kansas State is now 5-7 in conference, and needs a strong close to make a realistic bid.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, teams on the bubble only have another few weeks to state their case before their respective conference tournaments.

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