More than two feet of snow fell in Boston Friday night into Saturday morning—delaying Duke's journey north until Sunday morning—but the weather won’t stop Duke and Boston College from tipping off at Conte Forum Sunday at 6 p.m.
The Blue Devils (20-2, 7-2 in the ACC) started off their ACC schedule with major problems on the road, losing to then-No. 20 N.C. State and then-No. 25 Miami before finally winning big games at Wake Forest and at Florida State in their two most recent road tilts.
Duke rides into Chestnut Hill, Mass. to face the Eagles (10-12, 2-7) on a high note after avenging its loss to the Wolfpack with a win Thursday night. Even though revenge was on many players’ minds against N.C. State, the team is putting equal importance on preparing for Boston College.
“Each opponent is big for us,” said senior forward Mason Plumlee following the Blue Devils’ victory. “Now we have Boston College, and Boston College is a big game.”
While Duke’s main focus will be to carry its momentum on the road through the snow, the Eagles will be trying to break free from their recent rough patch. The team has lost six of its last seven games—most recently a 22-point drubbing at the hands of Miami.
Boston College will have to lean heavily upon sophomore Ryan Anderson if the team has a chance at winning its first game against a ranked opponent since Feb. 8, 2012, when the Eagles knocked off No. 17 Florida State. The 6-foot-8 forward from Lakewood, Calif. is leading the team in both scoring and rebounding with 16.0 and 8.8 per game, respectively. He has scored in double-figures in every ACC game this season.
Containing Anderson may prove difficult for the Blue Devils, as defense has been the team’s Achilles Heel ever since the injury to Ryan Kelly early last month. The Wolfpack big man combo of Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie exploited that weakness, combining for 39 points and 15 rebounds, despite a painstakingly slow start and both players fouling out before the final buzzer.
Some of the defensive deficiency in the post from the previous game could be solved by the potential return of junior forward Josh Hairston, who missed the N.C. State game with an infection in his arm.
“Josh is better,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “There’s a chance he could play on Sunday. He had to get operated on… so he’s finally getting over that.”
While Hairston’s return is on the horizon, the same optimism can’t be shared for Kelly’s injury. Instead, Duke will have to continue to learn how to play without the senior forward.
If Hairston can’t play, the Blue Devils will hope to see continued results from the collection of youthful replacements who have been carrying the torch, led by freshman Amile Jefferson.
“We would love to have Ryan back,” Krzyzewski said. “But we have learned to play with this group. I am not saying we are a great team, but we are a good team now with this group.”