Duke made its second ACC opponent this season, Boston College, look like amateurs Tuesday night. The Blue Devils took down the Eagles by a staggering 88-49 margin. What can be drawn from such a game? The Blue Zone ruminates on three takeaways and three key stats from the beatdown and looks at Duke's next matchup:
Three key takeaways:
1. Tre shows the way
Tre Jones proved that he’s the most important player for any team in the country with his play against Boston College. Duke’s vast improvement on the offensive end over just one game can be largely attributed to Jones’ return to the lineup. With Jones on the floor, the No. 2 Blue Devils were more organized and efficient than they had been during his two-game absence. Jones tallied 10 assists and gave up just one turnover. Tre Jones wasn’t slowed down by his injury—and he's ready to take this team to the next level.
2. Firing on all cylinders
Duke’s stellar performance Tuesday night against Boston College showcased this team’s full potential. Before last night's win, the Blue Devils had yet to play a complete all-around game this season. However, their thrashing of the Eagles showed just how dangerous this team can be when it’s firing in all facets of the game. The now-customary dominant defensive performance from Duke was accompanied by an equally dominant showing on the offensive end. The Blue Devils' smooth-flowing attack and lights-out shooting was a reassuring sight after the stagnant showing against Brown just two days before.
3. Freshman phenoms
It was no secret that this year’s freshman class would have trouble standing up to last season’s historic group, but the play of the baby Blue Devils against Boston College showed that this group has a ton of talent and a high ceiling. It was Matthew Hurt’s turn to dominate the game on Tuesday, scoring 25 points on knock-down shooting. Center Vernon Carey Jr. has been the most dominant freshman for most of the season, but Hurt’s outburst, along with solid play from Cassius Stanley and steady improvement from Wendell Moore, proves that this year’s class runs deep.
Three key stats:
The 49 points scored by Boston College are the fewest Duke has allowed so far this season—even fewer than the 50 points scored by Ivy-League fodder Brown. The total almost seems high considering the fact that the Blue Devils held the Eagles to just 19 points in the first half. These numbers are just another testament to Duke’s ability to dominate games on the defensive end of the floor. The Blue Devils disrupt passing lanes and protect the paint with relative ease, and with Tre Jones anchoring the perimeter defense, opponents have little hope of creating any real flow and rhythm for their offense.
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Eleven of the 12 players on Duke’s active roster celebrated New Year’s Eve by scoring against Boston College. While the game was a blowout early on, that stat still shows just how deep this roster runs. In a game where the Blue Devils scored 88 points, only two players reached double figures, with Wendell Moore scoring 11 and Matthew Hurt scoring 25. Unlike last year, Duke doesn’t need to rely on two or three players to carry the scoring burden. An off day from a star player won’t completely derail the offense, as there are more than enough options to produce every night.
Duke’s 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range against Boston College is a marked jump from the 12.5 percent showing two days earlier against Brown. While the Blue Devils desire a more consistent output, the vast improvement showed that this team doesn’t have to be defined by its shooting woes. Alex O’Connell’s 2-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc is an especially encouraging sign. If the Blue Devils can shoot like they did on Tuesday more consistently, they have the potential to emerge as the most complete team in college basketball and a clear favorite as March rolls around.
Duke will look to translate its dominance on New Year’s Eve into its first game of the decade when they face Miami Saturday. The Hurricanes (9-3, 1-1 in the ACC) will be a tough early test within the ACC for the Blue Devils, but if Duke can continue building on the trends from the Boston College game, they should pass with flying colors.