Boston College Basketball: #7 Duke escape with a 63-55 win over Eagles

Boston College

It was a game that looked and played more like a rock fight, than an actual basketball game. The #7 Duke Blue Devils (19-3, 9-2) used a 13-6 run in the last five minutes of the game to come away with a 63-55 victory over a game Boston College (11-12, 5-7) team. This was a game played before a sold-out Conte Forum that was hard to explain. Both teams had a difficult time putting the ball in the basket from three-point land. So hard, in fact, that neither team made one in the first half. Duke was 0-for-12 and Boston College was 0-for-9. For the game, the two teams combined to shoot 3-for-33 from behind the arc. On this day of college basketball that is unheard of. Coach Mike Krzyzewski knew it and said as much after the game. His quote was: “We were outplayed by BC in the first half, but good teams make winning plays down the stretch of close games”. Duke did and guard Tre Jones took things into his own hands and started making plays to give his team the lead. It allowed them to put some distance between themselves and the Eagles. Jones, who finished with 18 points, was there when Duke needed him.

Boston College started this game a step faster than the Blue Devils and it showed on the scoreboard. They had a ten-point lead at 12-2 with 14:29 left in the first half. The crowd-pleasing moment came on an alley-oop dunk by Jared Hamilton off a feed from Derryck Thornton (21 points, three assists, six turnovers) to give the Eagles that double-digit advantage. The Blue Devils were missing point-blank shots at the rim. Coach K saw them missing six shots at the rim in the first eight minutes of the ballgame. What kept Duke in the first half was BC turnovers. The had ten that stopped the Eagles from having a bigger lead than should have had. The other takeaway from the half and the game was BC’s ability to drive to the basket. At times, they did it at will getting to the rim and making plays. It made up for what the Eagles could not do and that was making open shots from either behind the arc or in front of it. Duke had their lead only once in the first half and it came with six minutes left when freshman big man Vernon Carey (17 points, 10 rebounds, 11th double-double of the season) hit a layup in the paint to give his team a 17-16 lead. The Eagles would get the lead back on a Thornton layup and kept it for the rest of the half. Going to the locker room BC was up 24-21.

The second half became a bit of a see-saw between the two teams. There were three ties in the first eleven minutes of the second half. BC hit their first three of the ballgame with almost nine minutes gone in the second half. Nik Popovic knocked one down to put his team up by one at 39-38 with eleven to play. Duke’s only three-point make of the night also put them ahead. Joey Baker hit one with 7:52 left to get his team back to within one at 47-46. The last tie was at 49-49 with 6:12 to go in the game. This is where the number seven team in the country started to play like it. A 13-6 finishing run, with Jones scoring eight of those points on a combination of jump shots and drives to the basket, proved to be too much for the Eagles. After the game, coach Jim Christian said, “my team lost its poise in the last five minutes.” Duke made a slight change in their defensive pressure, something coach K called “22” and it worked. It forced the Eagles into some sloppy turnovers that Duke converted into buckets. Despite a great effort from the Eagles, they could not pull this one off losing to #7 Duke 63-55. BC’s other double-digit scorer was Jay Heath with 12.

Coach K gave Boston College a lot of credit after the game for the way they played. When asked about his team’s effort his answer was “they are in trouble with me.” He thought the game started to turn in his team’s favor when he decided to go small in the second half to go along with the defensive changes that were made. Coach Christian thought his team did not finish enough plays to win. But he was very happy with his team’s effort going toe-to-toe with Duke.

Boston College now hits the road for there next two games at Virginia Tech and Miami before coming home to face North Carolina State on Feb. 16.

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