Duke returned home Thursday night long enough to pick up their mail and get the laundry done.
Okay, that's not really accurate. NC State and Wake Forest aren't major road trips. But the BC game was Duke's only appearance in Cameron in a five-game stretch. Mike Krzyzewski thought that some people needed a refresher. Early in the second half of Duke's 84-68 win, he got down on his hands and knees on the sidelines, emphatically slapping the floor with both hands.
"I thought it was dead in here. The crowds have been unbelievable this season but for some reason, it was dead tonight."
Krzyzewski said the message was intended for his players, the fans, pretty much anyone watching. The message was received by his team, which buckled down on defense, hit some 3s and put away a dangerous, if overmatched Boston College team.
Steve Donahue, in his first season at Chesnutt Hills, has installed an entirely new offense, one that Krzyzewski characterized as "well conceived. They spread you, they attack you. It puts so much pressure on you."
But BC is thin, with only a handful of scorers and little margin for error. So, it was with some shock that they began both halves with star guard Reggie Jackson sitting on the bench. Donahue wouldn't get into specifics in the post-game but made it clear than Jackson is not practicing to Donahue's expectations.
Jackson entered both halves at the first media timeout and played 32 minutes. But truth be told, his much-ballyhooed match up with Duke's Nolan Smith was pretty one-sided. Duke hounded Jackson all over the court, holding him to seven points on 3-11 shooting.
Smith, on the other hand, simply dominated both ends of the floor. His game-high 28 points gives him ten games this season with at least 20 points, 163 points in seven ACC games. That's an average of 23.3. Smith added eight assists against only one turnover and did more than his share in holding down Jackson.
Smith is playing at an exceptionally high level, ACC Player of the Year, first-team All-America level. He leads the ACC in scoring and assists and has a good chance to become the first player in ACC history to accomplish that feat for a season. Chew on that for awhile.
Donahue was suitably impressed. "He's their catalyst. He has a great presence about him."
Duke only had seven turnovers, against 16 assists. Krzyzewski called it Duke's best ball-handling game of the year but Donahue had another explanation. "We don't do a good job defensively in general. We just don't compete enough on the defensive end."
Duke had 10 steals and six blocks, BC three steals and no blocks, a stark illustration of how far apart these two teams are on the defensive end.
Even with Jackson in a funk, BC hung tough for 25 minutes. They only led once, at 3-2, but the game was tied as late as 8:15 left in the first half, at 15-15. Athletic wing Corey Raji, perhaps inspired by his brother B.J.'s impending appearance in the Super Bowl, with Green Bay, slashed inside for 12 first-half points.
But he didn't have much help and Smith had lots, including Ryan Kelly, who made all five of his first-half shots. That ran his streak to 15 consecutive field goals; he missed his first shot after intermission. Kelly's 18-footer put Duke up 41-32 at the half.
Joe Trapani scored the first four points of the second half, cutting Duke's lead to five. But Seth Curry hit a pair of 3s to push Duke up 54-41 and the Eagles never got closer than 11. Duke's biggest lead was at 69-47, following another Curry bomb from beyond the arc.
Curry ended the game with 20 points, his high at Duke. That makes him the seventh Duke player to have a 20-point game this season. Kyle Singler and Kelly added 14 points apiece.
Krzyzewski praised his big men for their defense of a BC offense that frequently puts opposing big men a long way from the basket. The Eagles had some success going backdoor in the first half but Duke made the necessary adjustments. Miles Plumlee had four steals and Kelly four blocks.
Then there's Mason Plumlee, whose 12 rebounds was his fifth straight game in double-digits. Plumlee is averaging 11.1 rebounds per game in ACC play.
. Krzyzewski says Duke is 11-1 with this team, after starting 8-0 with a completely different team. Fair enough. Back on the road again, St. John's on Sunday and then that always dicey trip to College Park will provide another progress report.
Duke was 10-22 on 3s tonight, the best ACC performance by far. Krzyzewski said Duke had more kick-outs tonight and players had their feet set.
Duke got exactly zero points from its bench tonight. Probably an aberration but Andre Dawkins' mini-slump bears watching. Dawkins has three points in his last two games.
Boston College dropped to 2-13 against Duke, 0-6 in Cameron.