Duke overcame what could charitably be described as a lackluster first half Tuesday night to defeat visiting Boston College 80-55.
The win gives Duke an 8-1 record in the ACC, 20-2 overall, while dropping Boston College to 2-7, 11-10.
This time it was Cam Reddish who led the freshman parade for Duke, a game-high 24 points, half of them clustered around a crucial seven-minute stretch spanning both halves.
BC beat Duke last year and they didn’t back down from the favored Blue Devils. But if Duke had payback on their minds, they took their time showing it.
A lot of it was some really bad shooting. The Blue Devils were 1-for-15 on 3s in the first half. It was a collective effort. Six different Blue Devils gave it a try.
“Their zone really messed us up,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “We were really out of sync. We didn’t communicate well. No one was talking. Even when we said something to run on offense, we didn’t run it. We were kind of fortunate to be down only two at the half.”
Duke’s defense kept it close in the opening stanza, especially Tre Jones on Ky Bowman and Reddish on Jordan Chatman.
It may seem strange to cite one play as a big play in what turned into a 25-point game. But Duke was down 30-26 when Reddish missed a baseline 3-pointer late. BC rebounded and had enough time to extend its lead. But Reddish picked Jared Hamilton’s pocket and hit the layup right before the buzzer.
It was 30-28.
“I missed that three,” Reddish said, “ and I knew the clock was winding down. I needed to make up for that.”
“A huge play,” Barrett added. “Things weren’t going well and that gave us a boost.”
What happened at halftime depends on who you talked to.
“Coach said we needed to pick up our energy and talk,” Reddish said. “Coach just wants us to fight at the end of the day. Get to the basket, get to the paint, play hard and defend.”
“I was lacking energy in the first half,” Jones acknowledged. “I knew I had to set the tone in the second half.”
Krzyzewski said the emphasis was on ball movement.
It didn’t take long for Duke to get some separation. Reddish tied it with a short jumper, Barrett got an old-fashioned three-point play, Reddish hit a three, Williamson scored inside, Reddish hit another three.
Duke’s 13-2 run took less than four minutes.
BC was never able to mount a comeback, in part because of the job the Blue Devils did on Bowman, who came into the game averaging over 20 points per game.
Bowman was an outstanding prep football player and Jones said he had to adjust to his physicality.
Bowman ended with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. But he shot 5-for-17 from the field and turned it over three times.
Krzyzewski said it was a team effort.
“We did a really good job on a kid that I think is one of the best in the league. Our focus was that. And it wasn’t just Tre, it was our big guys up there. They were moving their feet.”
Krzyzewski also cited Duke’s work on the boards.
“Our defensive rebounding was outstanding and as a result of our defensive rebounding, we got runs.”
Boston College out-rebounded Duke 24-21 in the first half but Duke controlled the boards in the second half, 22-8, allowing the Eagles only two second-chance points for the game.
Zion Williamson was a large part of that rebounding dominance, grabbing a career-high 17, 11 on the defensive end. Williamson scored a modest--for him--16 points, ending a six-game streak of at least 22 points. He even missed a breakaway dunk. Roommate Barrett said that Williamson would hear about it. But Williamson added three assists, three blocks and four steals to his stuffed stat line.
Barrett picked up three first-half fouls but Krzyzewski let him find his way.
“It’s definitely part of the game,” the taciturn freshman said. “I’m glad coach let me play through it.”
Barrett scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
Krzyzewski said Duke played “great, not good” in the second half and it was something of a clinic, 52-25.
Duke shot 17-for-27 (63 percent) in the second half. BC was 8-for-24.
“We’re able to get our game to another level,” Barrett said. “And that’s what we did in the second half. We exploded.”
The win clinches Duke’s 23rd consecutive 20-win season.
After that woeful 1-15 start, Duke hit 6-for-9 on threes in the second half. The Blue Devils hit 15-of-22 from the foul line and turned it over only seven times. Duke had nine blocks, nine steals and a modest 14 assists on 29 made field goals.
Alex O’Connell hit two late buckets, Duke’s only bench points. Javin DeLaurier and Jack White did give Duke five rebounds, three assists and three blocks. But the freshmen combined for 70 of Duke’s 80 points, Marques Bolden’s six and O’Connell’s four the others.
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- Duke men’s basketball plagued by another dismal start against Boston College
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Alex O’ Connell
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