I think everyone expected to see a Duke team not quite in sync going into their game Wednesday night against Boston College. After not having any game action since December 16th, down both Jalen Johnson and reserve center Patrick Tape´ and probably most notably being down a hall of fame coach there were a lot of things stacked up against the Blue Devils. It’s not been an ideal start to the season with the starts, stops and cancellations the Blue Devils needed a herculean effort to take out a struggling Boston College team. They got that effort from a struggling Wendell Moore Jr. Moore had been struggling but when the Blue Devils needed him the most the sophomore forward came through with 25 points on 8-13 shooting.
Duke began the game struggling on both ends of the floor while BC hit the ground running in the first half building a 16 point lead with 2 minutes remaining in the first half. The Blue Devils managed to trim the BC lead to 8 with a 10-2 run to end the half featuring 7 points from freshman DJ Steward.
The Blue Devils began the second half with a quick 6-2 run with all of the 6 coming from freshman Jeremy Roach bringing the lead down to 4 points. A 3-pointer by forward Matthew Hurt tied the game at 46 with 18 minutes left in the game and a DJ Steward layup gave Duke their first lead since 4-0 in the first half. The teams volleyed the lead back and forth with no team taking more than a 4 point lead in the final minutes. A 3 pointer by Matthew Hurt put the Blue Devils up by 3 with 1:15 left in the game and they would never relinquish the lead winning 83-82.
Wendell Moore Jr. paced the Blue Devils with his 25 point break out performance, Moore also added 3 steals. Sophomore Matthew Hurt added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils and shot 3-6 from the 3 point line. Freshmen DJ Steward added 14 points and 8 rebounds, and guards Jeremy Roach and Jordan Goldwire added 12 each.
The Blue Devils as a team shot 44.8% from the field and 36.4% from 4 point range. The Blue Devils shot 60% from the free throw line. The Eagles had 46 points in the paint to Dukes 28 but the Blue Devils made up the gap with a 28-9 advantage in fast break points.
Next up for the Blue Devils is Wake Forest on Saturday.
DUKE ACTING HEAD COACH JON SCHEYER
Opening Statement: “Well obviously that was a heck of a win and I can only imagine what Coach [K] is doing and thinking down the stretch, or actually the whole game. I thought our guys showed a lot of poise. It’s not easy to not play for three weeks and have a couple games postponed or canceled. It took us a while to get going, clearly … not sure what it was but I thought the end of the first was huge and coming out of halftime, we tried to put pressure on them. We got some turnovers and stops and I thought it really got us back in that game right away which is really important. From there, big plays down the stretch. Matt’s [Hurt] three in the corner, Wendell’s [Moore Jr.] shot with the time running out on the shot clock and J. Gold [Jordan Goldwire]’s two free throws. I could go on and on, but those stood out to me. I’m very proud. I’m happy we got the win and hopefully we can build from here.”
On Wendell’s performance tonight:
“Extremely proud of Wendell. Clearly he’s not played well, but he’s worked his butt off. He’s gotten up in the morning basically every day we practiced with Coach Carrawell and they’re working. There’s been a lot of noise for these guys, whether it’s on social media or elsewhere … he’s able to block out the noise and kept working. Wendell’s always at his best when he’s playing defense talking and leading. At the start of the game, he did that. His offense came along as well. I can’t tell you how proud we are of him. He saved us throughout the entire game.”
On the last three weeks:
“It’s not how I dreamed about coaching my first game. Again, I think bizarre circumstances. All of us – Nate [James], Chris [Carrawell], Nolan [Smith] and I – you want to get that win for Coach. It’s just natural to feel that way. There’s pressure you put on yourself … we all felt that way. We really stuck together as a staff with decision making and subs, with Matt’s four fouls and trying to find the right lineup defensively but also offensively. I’m very thankful to have Nate, Chris and Nolan these last couple days of preparation. Coach also has been there every step of the way. In the locker room, he did a Zoom with the team before the game. We’ve had almost more prep as a staff with him being gone than with him here. We’ve been on the same page talking about Boston College. None of it really worked for us in the first half and we had to find a way. I’m happy we won. I wish we had a camera on Coach at the end there to see what he was doing.”
On what Wendell brings to the team when he’s playing at his best:
“We’re a different team. I think his versatility is something we’ve missed. He’s a guy who really defended every position tonight. We had him flashing in the middle of the zone … we had him driving the ball from the perimeter … obviously he got to the free throw line. He’s defending down on the block and guarding outside. We’re a team with seven new guys, six are freshmen. Anyone who has experience, especially Jordan, Matt and Wendell, their veteran leadership is important. People respect Wendell when he says something but I really think about his versatility and what that does for our team.”
On what tonight meant for him personally:
“I’d be lying if I said this did not mean a lot to me. Naturally, you want to step up and have Coach’s back as a staff. I’ve always wanted to win. You’re going into this game and you get one chance so you want to do the best job you can preparing. It wasn’t pretty all the time. I’m proud of the preparation we had as a staff. I’m proud of the decisions in game, although there’s always things you could do better or differently. To start off this way and get a win … It’s easier to call Coach after the game. I may not sleep tonight now. But just to move on and go from here. It meant a lot and I’m very proud.”
SOPHOMORE FORWARD WENDELL MOORE JR.
On how it feels to break out of his recent shooting slump: “It feels great. The biggest thing for me is my teammates were behind me the whole time. Even though I was going through the struggles, they always had my back, they kept believing in me, kept giving me the opportunity, and I’m glad to make them proud tonight.”
When asked how it felt when he made his first three of the game to get the night started: “I’m pretty sure that first field goal was a banked three. For me, I was just happy to see it go through. Just seeing that first one go through, I feel like it took everything that was on my shoulders off of me and allowed me to play free and just go out there and win the game.”
On having Jon Scheyer as the acting head coach tonight: “He won the game so I think he did great. He put us in all the right positions to be successful. He called the big plays down the stretch, and he just wasn’t scared of the moment. He knew we had his back and we knew he had our back, and he was really big-time tonight.”
On the impact it had for Duke to cut a 16-point first-half Boston College lead down to eight points at halftime: “That was huge for us. They came out hitting everything. They played really great today. They had a great game plan for us, and they came and executed it – and we just had to fight back. It was a classic ACC matchup. Records don’t mean anything, throw everything out the window, and just come to compete. That little run we had at the end of the half, that was huge for us going into the second half, just carrying over and continuing to get over the hump and not look back.” “Our last game was Notre Dame, so obviously after that, we went home and got a little time to ourselves. I just kind of used that time to get in the gym and make a lot of shots. For me, it was just seeing the ball go in. And that allowed me to come back to campus, continue working with the team, and the guys were continuing to get better, which led to our performance tonight.”
When asked what it means for Duke’s young players to pull out an ACC win in a game like this: “I think it’s big for the young guys. Every game in the ACC is never going to be easy, no matter who we play. I think tonight they learned that we have to come and fight every day. Nothing’s going to be given to us, nothing’s going to be easy, because everybody wants to beat Duke. That means every night we have to come out and compete and fight for 40 minutes.”
FRESHMAN GUARD DJ STEWARD
On how it felt to get the win tonight after such a long layoff: “It felt great. First time back out there on the court, I could tell that we had a little nerves at first, but we got those out and we’re just ready to keep moving forward and just keep winning.”
When asked what worked well for Duke at the end of the first half and led to the run that cut the lead to eight at halftime: “We just really came together. We knew we had to get stops and the stops were going to lead to buckets. Boston College was a really good team and they executed their game plan, but in those last couple of minutes, we knew we had to cut the lead going in to halftime in order to have a chance to win this game.”
On the play of Wendell Moore Jr.: “I can honestly say, the first time, coming back for that first practice [after the holiday break] or that first scrimmage, I saw that Wendell was a lot more confident, and I just knew the next game he was going to come out there and he was going to hoop. I’m really proud of him and I’m really excited for him to keep it going forward.”
When asked what he thinks the biggest difference was for Duke in the second half versus the first half: “Our energy got better. We came out in the second half and our seniors and our leaders, they led us in this game. Shout out to Jordan Goldwire, Matt Hurt, and Wendell [Moore Jr.}. They really led us today and that was good for us.”
BOSTON COLLEGE HEAD COACH JIM CHRISTIAN
On coming out strong against Duke: “We have guys who have been here before, we have some seniors and older players. The guys are excited to play. I wouldn’t have expected us to do nothing less. Why would we be afraid? This is college basketball. This is what you sign up for – playing these great teams in great environments. If we are afraid of that, they are in our league. Again, I was expecting us to do nothing less except execute down the stretch.”
On how things got away after leading by 16: “You know they are going to make a run. You have to give them credit too. It’s not only us. There are two teams out there playing. They made some plays. We turned the ball over. We had 21 turnovers. I give them credit, it is how they play. They feast off turnovers and we knew that coming in. We were just a little careless and made tough decisions especially early in the second half to give them momentum. I thought we did a great job fighting our way back. Turnovers, when you turn it over 21 times at Cameron, it is tough to win. Especially when I thought we had good rhythm on offense the whole night. We got the matchups we were trying to get. We just have to get a little stronger with the ball.”
On pulling things from last year’s game against Duke: “Again, they make it really difficult for you to run sets. You have to play off space, off the ball screen because they take you out of so many different things as such an aggressive defensive team – similar to NC State. I thought we did that. We were trying to get matchups, certain guys in the middle of the floor against certain guys on their team. I thought we did a fairly good job of that, especially early. That was why we got the lead, we were making good decisions with the ball. I thought late we were not making as good of decisions with the ball.”