Another day, another attempt at revenge for the Blue Devils will come Tuesday night.
After a dominating win against St. John’s Saturday—one of the teams that upset Duke last season—the second-ranked Blue Devils will continue their homestand against Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Eagles handed Duke its first loss of the 2017-18 campaign in an 89-84 defeat.
This year the Blue Devils hope to avenge last year’s upset by overwhelming Boston College with athleticism and a suffocating defensive stance. The Eagles have had a rough ACC journey thus far, with only two conference wins against Florida State and Wake Forest.
One of Boston College’s problems is its inefficiency on offense, as it has only shot 44.3 percent from the field so far, ranked 198th in the nation. Eagle guard Ky Bowman however, has done his best to help his team escape its shooting woes, as his 20.8 point per game average is the third best in the conference behind Duke freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson.
Bowman was a main contributor in dismantling the Blue Devil defense in last year’s matchup, as he dropped 30 points on 50 percent shooting from the field en route to a heartbreaker for Duke fans. Bowman has the potential to light Cameron up this Tuesday, but if freshman Tre Jones can play lockdown defense as he did against Shamorie Ponds last Saturday, Bowman may have difficulties getting shots off and scoring easily.
“I knew [Jones] was that good. I had high expectations of his leadership and his knowledge of the game, but his knowledge of the game and being able to lead in real time have been at a higher level than what I anticipated,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s such a key guy for us… he’s a heck of a defender.”
Jordan Chatman, another returning Boston College guard, also gave Duke (19-2, 7-1 in the ACC) the blues last year with a 22-point performance on 5-of-9 shooting beyond the arc. Chatman still shoots at a high clip from the outside, having knocked down 36.2 percent of his long range shots on the season. The Blue Devils will have to key in on the backcourt duo of him and Bowman and make sure the two don’t carry the Eagles to an upset for the second year in a row.
Boston College (11-9, 2-6) will probably come out in a defense that has somewhat plagued Duke for the past couple of games—a zone. As the Blue Devils have struggled to shoot the ball well from deep—ranked 311th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 31.1 percent—opponents have consistently utilized the zone, begging the Duke to hit its open shots. But with shooters, freshman Cam Reddish and junior Jack White playing inconsistently, and an inability to efficiently score in half-court sets, the zone has been effective against the Blue Devils.
“It’s a balance of scoring. I think we’re better shooters than our percentage,” Krzyzewski said. “If you just focus on one thing that you’re not doing at the level of everything else, then you’re not taking care of everything you do at a high level. We don’t pay attention to what we have done, we try to pay attention to what we are doing.”
Jones and Barrett have the responsibility of attacking the zone near the perimeter, and putting Eagle defenders out of position even if Duke’s shots aren’t falling. The Blue Devil backcourt did a good job dismantling the zone against St. John’s especially during the second half, which is something Duke wishes to carry over this Tuesday.
Despite finding possible success limiting the Blue Devils' opportunities with a zone defense, Boston College will most likely find it hard to stop Williamson from doing what he wants near the rim. No ACC team has found an answer for the 6-foot-7 forward, who would be averaging 27.1 points per conference game were it not for an eye injury which sidelined Williamson for the entirety of the second half of Duke's buzzer-beating win against Florida State.
The Blue Devils bounced back from Williamson’s absence with a game winning thriller, proving that they are not a one dimensional team. Duke has shown this time and time again this season, that the team is resilient and can take care of business even without a full squad.
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“Our guys handled that adversity really well, not well, really well,” Krzyzewski said. “Hopefully we won’t have anymore of that, but the fact that we’ve gone through that I think it made us better and hopefully we don’t have to do it but we’re better prepared if something does happen.”
While Duke has dealt with injuries in the past, the team is now at full health with each of its players back in the swing of things. Following Tuesday's contest the Blue Devils will travel to Charlottesville, Va. for a rematch with No. 3 Virginia Saturday.