Duke overpowers BC
Youthful Eagles flop in 2d half
Not this time. Not against a Duke team that already has had its share of being upset, and of near misses because of lapses.
When Boston College trotted onto the court at Conte Forum last night for its Atlantic Coast Conference meeting with Duke, the Eagles were greeted by a sold-out crowd, with more students in the stands than at any home game this season.
The added support helped for the first 3:39 as BC made its first five shots and took a 13-7 lead. Visions of the Eagles’ upset of Florida State danced in the heads of BC fans among the 8,606 who filled the place for the first time this season.
Duke’s Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski, had some concerns.
“We respect them,’’ said Coach K. “We came in here respecting Boston College, which we should. One of the huge wins of all the conference games was their win against Florida State. Florida State could go to the Final Four. And they beat them. I watched about eight of their games. This game worried me so much. These kids can beat us. I wasn’t telling myself fairy tales or anything like that.’’
There ended up no fairy tales for BC, though, as the Dukies shook off that opening deficit and held the Eagles to a pair of baskets during the final 16:21 of the first half, which gave the Blue Devils a comfortable 30-21 halftime lead.
BC coach Steve Donahue knew his team was running more on fumes than firepower, and Duke took advantage in the second half by pulling away to a 75-50 victory.
“We let it snowball,’’ said Donahue. “Duke did what they needed to do and they pounced on it.’’
To describe it as pouncing was being kind, as the Blue Devils overpowered BC on the boards (45-21) and in the backcourt. Freshman guard Austin Rivers scored 16 points and junior Seth Curry had 18 as they made 5 of 9 3-pointers in sparking Duke.
For the Eagles, who have lost nine of their last 10 games while dropping to 3-10 in the ACC and 8-19 overall, it was another case of swallowing some frustration along with another double-digit loss.
“It’s always frustrating when you execute well offensively and it doesn’t go down for you,’’ said freshman forward Ryan Anderson, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We will learn from this and move on to the next one.’’
The difference in talent and experience - BC has nine freshmen - was clear last night, increasingly after that opening segment. “You can’t let experience let down and not show up,’’ said Kryzyzewski. “Tonight our experience showed up.’’
So did Rivers, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers who already is part of Duke lore after his last-second shot beat North Carolina a week and a half ago.
BC had no answer for Duke’s backcourt, or for the presence of 6-foot-10-inch power forwards Mason and Miles Plumlee.
Rivers, not surprisingly, was the focus.
“He’s the rookie of the week in our conference almost every week,’’ said Krzyzewski. “Everybody on our team loves Austin. I don’t know how he could be much better than what he is doing. And he will get better.’’
Rivers is part of the star power the fifth-ranked Blue Devils (23-4, 10-2) bring with them when they hit the road.
Last night was no exception; one could tell from the start that it was a different event.
Outside the parking garage at BC, someone wanted to know “Have you got any tickets?’’ As the Duke bus arrived in front of Conte Forum, a crowd of supporters applauded and offered encouragement. Visiting teams normally are greeted by a BC official and few, if any, fans.
Inside, national media members who hadn’t been to a BC game all season appeared, along with a contingent of NBA scouts.
The Dukies - like Tobacco Road rival North Carolina - still have the most star power in the ACC at BC.
All the Eagles had to do was bring the game that had upset Florida State - a team that had beaten Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season.
It didn’t happen, at least not after the first four minutes, which left BC with more work to do and a dwindling number of games to put a positive spin on its season.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.