Duke (18-5, 7-3) – Boston College (6-16, 2-7) Preview
Randy Dunson (@RandyDunson) & Brian Horace
February 8, 2014
Duke will hit the road for the third time in the past four games this Saturday, taking on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The road game at Boston College will be Duke’s fourth in a five-game stretch that included games at Pittsburgh (W, 80-65) and Syracuse (L, 89-91 in OT) and also features an away game at North Carolina (February 12). Duke is 5-5 away from Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, including 2-3 in true road games. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 11 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches’ polls. The Blue Devils are 17-2 against unranked opponents this season with their only losses coming on the road against ACC foes Notre Dame (77-79) and Clemson (59-72).
At the beginning of the season, Boston College held great promise. In the matter of a year, the Eagles went from one of the least experienced teams in the country to one of the most. Last season, 95 percent of the scoring came from either freshmen or sophomores. In addition, 94 percent of the rebounds and 97 percent of the assists came from underclassmen. Further, freshmen and sophomores accounted for 93 percent of the minutes played. This season was to be a different story. All of those numbers returned and made the Eagles the most experienced team in the ACC. The Eagles were the only team in the ACC to return seven players with 20 or more career starts. Unfortunately, the experience has thus far failed to return significant dividends. In the ACC, they currently rank 15th in rebounding, 10th in points scored, 9th in assists, and 8th in field goal percentage.
Team Seasons Thus Far
Boston College Eagles
In its last game, Boston College lost in front of the home crowd against No. 20 Virginia 77-67 in conference play on Wednesday, February 5. The Eagles stay winless versus AP-Ranked teams at 0-3 for the season. Ryan Anderson put up a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds in the Eagles loss while Olivier Hanlan scored 14 points and added three assists. Junior guard Lonnie Jackson added 12 points and two rebounds. Virginia scored 15 unanswered points over a 6:42 span in the first half to take a 20-5 lead from which BC never recovered. A 7-0 BC run cut the deficit to 47-33 at the 13:26 mark of the second half. Hanlan and Garland Owens hit a pair of 3-pointers in that span. Virginia was up 71-52 with 4:47 left before BC cut the lead down to 73-67 with 39 seconds left during a 15-2 run. However, the Cavalier’s Malcolm Brogdon hit two free throws and the Eagles did not convert on the next trip down the floor, which sealed the game.
Boston College has lost its last two games, and both were on the road at Notre Dame and #20/21 Virginia. BC won its last home game against Virginia Tech, 76-52, on January 29. The great promise shown for the Eagles at the beginning of the season as alluded to above may have been skewed somewhat by its schedule. Boston College established one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country this season (2nd toughest per Pomeroy). BC’s opponents in November are a combined 95-64 this year and #22/RV Connecticut is ranked in the latest AP poll. UMass, Toledo, Providence, and Connecticut each have at least 16 victories. The Eagles’ opposition in the month of December is a combined 84-49 with VCU reaching 19 wins already. The trend continues in January with the opposition having a combined 117-57 record. The record of all 22 of BC’s opponents so far is a combined 298-170. All of the Eagles opponents are a combined 388-215, a .643 winning percentage.
As mentioned to above, Boston College kept a cadre of players that played 93% of last season’s minutes. Their major loss was senior Andrew Van Nest. Among the Eagles returnees are sophomore guards Joe Rahon (9.5 PPG, 3.3 APG) and Olivier Hanlan (17.7 PPG, 2.9 APG), junior forward Ryan Anderson (15.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG), junior guard Lonnie Jackson (7.7 PPG, 2.0 APG), and junior Patrick Heckmann (4.1 PPG, 1.0 APG). They are joined by incoming freshmen forwards Garland Owens (3.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG) and Will Magarity (2.8 PPG, 1.2 RPG). The Eagles typically start Anderson, Jackson, Hanlon, Rahon, and junior guard Alec Dragicevich (4.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG).
Duke Blue Devils
The pre-game hype was that Duke might have been emotionally spent after a tough OT loss at Syracuse just two days earlier. It looked like that early on but the Blue Devils still had plenty left to take care of Wake Forest. Duke Head coach Mike Krzyzewski noted, “We beat the emotional hangover”. Jabari Parker scored 21 points in Duke’s 83-63 rout of the Demon Deacons on Tuesday night. He has now had 20 points for the 13th time overall and the 3rd time in ACC play. Rasheed Sulaimon added 19 points. Duke shot nearly 51%, hit 12 3-pointers against one of the ACC’s best perimeter defenses and used a big run at the end of the first half to roll to its eighth straight victory over its in-state rival. They forced 19 Wake turnovers, including five straight during Duke’s decisive run, scoring 26 points. Playing without leading scorer Codi Miller-McIntyre, Wake Forest hung around for about 15 minutes before ultimately losing their 15th straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, all by double figures. Andre Dawkins added 17 points with four 3-pointers for Duke. The Blue Devils, who shoot 3-pointers at an ACC-leading 41 percent clip, hit four three’s in roughly 3½ minutes during the first half run, including two by Rodney Hood about 30 seconds apart. Tyler Thornton recorded three of the team’s 10 steals. With this victory, Duke won its 29th straight home game (tied for the longest active streak in the nation with No. 3 Florida).
Duke is shooting .416 (221-of-531) from three-point range this season while averaging 9.61 made three-pointers per game. The .416 three-point percentage would rank third on Duke’s single-season list, while the 9.61 made three-pointers would rank second. Since beginning conference play, Duke is averaging 13.0 offensive rebounds per game to rank third in the ACC. Duke has pulled in double-digit offensive rebounds in six straight games and is averaging 16.3 points on second-chance opportunities in ACC play.
Andre Dawkins leads the ACC in three-point shooting percentage, hitting 47.8 percent (55-of-115) of his shots from beyond the arc. Dawkins is shooting 52.4 percent (22-of-42) from three-point range over his past six games with multiple treys in all six of those contests. Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton are shooting a combined .587 (27-of-46) from three-point range since Duke began ACC play. Sulaimon boasts a .586 (17-of-29) clip, while Thornton owns a .588 (10-of-17) percentage. Sulaimon has scored in double figures in six of 10 ACC games and averages 11.1 points and 3.1 assists per game in conference play. He has at least four assists in five of his past six games and owns a 2.7:1 assist-to-turnover ratio during that span. Dawkins and Rodney Hood are the top two three-point shooters in the ACC. Dawkins leads the league in three-point percentage, while Hood ranks second with a .449 (48-of-107) clip. The last Duke player to lead the ACC in three-point percentage was Daniel Ewing in 2004 (.411 – 74-of-180). A Blue Devil has led the league in that category four times. ACC Rookie of the Week Jabari Parker is attempting to become the first Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season, currently averaging team highs of 18.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Only two freshmen have led Duke in scoring, and only six have led the team in rebounding. Parker leads the ACC in rebounding, averaging 8.2 boards per game. In conference play, he averages ACC-high 3.8 offensive rebounds per game. His 8.2 rebounds per game would rank as the third highest rebounding average by a Duke freshman in school history.
Duke leads the all-time series with Boston College, 16-2. The Blue Devils have won each of the past seven meetings, including twice last season. Duke holds a 7-0 lead in games played in Cameron Indoor Stadium, 6-1 at Conte Forum, and 2-0 in the ACC Tournament. With the recent ACC expansion, the Blue Devils will play the Eagles only once during a season.
In terms of a few select statistical parameters, Duke pretty much predominates in each, which gives the Blue Devils a significant edge head-to-head.
Four Factors to Winning
Duke once again has the upper hand in the same three factors as they did against Wake Forest. They include shooting (eFG%) at 55.4 vs. 52.7, ball handling (TO%) at 14.2 vs. 18, and offensive rebounding (OR%) 33.8 vs. 26.7. Wake has a slight edge in shooting free throws (FT Rate) at 41% vs. 45%.
Honestly, we expected a lot more this season from the BC Eagles; they have talent. They have guys that can make shots and guys that can defend. What they do not seem to have are rebounders. They have one guy averaging over 5 rebounds a game in Ryan Anderson, the next highest total is under 4. Duke should be able to outrebound BC with ease. Duke had issues closing BC out last year at Conte, with a memorable slam by Eddie Odio off an inbounds play making the ESPN SportsCenter top ten and we all know what Oliver Hanlan is capable of. Ryan Anderson is also a threat from anywhere on the floor but we see him putting pressure on the Duke bigs in the paint to be a huge advantage for BC.
Before the season, we thought a lineup that included Odio, Hanlan, and Anderson would make a run in the ACC but this year losing streak after losing streak has crippled those chances for BC. Look for them to come out with fire against Duke. Duke will need to control the boards and not turn the ball over, especially open-court turnovers that can put its transition defense on its heels. Boston College shoots a pretty good from the field but they are about 10 points less than Duke in points scored a game. Therefore, if Duke can get out in transition and put some pressure on the BC offense they can take the crowd out of this game early. Duke will have to be careful not to get into foul trouble, we expect BC to drive the ball and put pressure on Duke to defend.
In the end we see Duke winning this game but also we don’t expect it to be a laugher, BC will come out hungrily and in need of big time wins and with Duke being a team in flux and with very little margin for error it could be a dog fight the entire night. Duke has the ability to run away with this game but with the amount of self inflicted wounds this team has on a nightly basis it will be a mid to late second half run that seals it for Duke.