DURHAM, N.C. -- The difference in Duke's 92-65 rout of Clemson's Tigers on Saturday lay atop Trajan Langdon's top lip.
The senior sharpshooter playing in his final home game sat dazed before his locker, removing the oblong bandage hugging his lip for all the television cameras to see. Witnesses were entertained by Langdon's seven stitches, received at halftime by Duke doctors, the vicious hole in his face coming courtesy of an Adam Allenspach elbow to the chops as the Clemson center set a screen at the top of the key.
It was the type of controversy in need of a special prosecutor. Luckily, Kenneth Starr watched from Cameron Indoor Stadium's center court.
For a Tigers team desperate to muscle their way past the nation's No. 1 team, the elbow became Duke's battle hymn of the republic. Langdon didn't know who hit him. All he knew was that he couldn't feel his two front teeth, and when he put his right hand to his mouth, blood covered his hand.
Langdon lay stomach-down on the floor as an irate Mike Krzyzewski ripped off his sports coat and flung it toward his bench. Chris Carrawell, Duke's resident enforcer, immediately had words with Andrius Jurkunas, emphatically telling him "It better not happen again." Terrell McIntyre stepped between Carrawell and Jurkunas.
The cauldron of inhospitable Crazies began ominous, yet foretelling, chants: "You will pay!" followed by "Show no mercy!"
When play resumed with 7:23 remaining in the first half, what was a to-the-vest 30-30 game exploded as the Blue Devils reeled off 26 consecutive points, showing absolutely no mercy. At one point, they attempted 12 consecutive free-throws in a minute of clock time.
Jurkunas' reputation as a dirty player precedes him, and the 6-9 forward was whistled for shoving Langdon upon the guard's return, then for wrenching the neck of Shane Battier as the Lithuanian attempted to block out.
"It was a cheap shot, and I think we all felt that they were trying to take us out of our game by upsetting us," said Carrawell, one of six Devils (27-1, 15-0 ACC) in double figures.
"Anything emotional like that, you've got to step up and turn your anger into a positive."
As Duke's defense intensified, Clemson (15-12, 4-10) wilted. The Tigers committed 10 turnovers after the elbow, the Devils converting them into 18 points. Augusta's William Avery, plagued by a flu bug, had 10 points in 32 minutes.
For all purposes, the wake-up blow turned on the rout's faucets.
"I thought at 30-30, before the injury took place, we were playing an excellent game, as far as on our terms," Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said. "At that swinging time, I guess the most appropriate thing, so I don't say anything out of line, would be that they did an excellent job of turning us over and converting baskets."
Those comments were tame compared to Shyatt barking incessantly at referee Rick Hartzell, then throwing his rolled up stat sheet in disgust after one no-call.
"They probably got pumped up and we kind of lost our composure," said McIntyre, who missed 14 of his 19 shots. "When you foul five straight trips down court, and they convert into free-throws and three-point plays, you get frustrated. They took advantage of us."