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And one: Improvement from Whitehead, crucial free throws help Duke men's basketball down Boston College

Dariq Whitehead pulls up for a 3-point jumper in Duke's loss to N.C. State.
Dariq Whitehead pulls up for a 3-point jumper in Duke's loss to N.C. State.

After each Duke game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils survived a scare against Boston College to win 65-64 and grab their first away victory of the season. The Blue Zone breaks down the game:

One Player: Dariq Whitehead

Over the past few games, it has been exciting for Duke fans to see Dariq Whitehead get into rhythm and blossom into an influential player. After easing into the early season from a foot injury, he has accelerated his play recently, scoring in double figures in four-straight games. With Jeremy Roach missing the Boston College game due to a lingering toe injury, Whitehead made his second start of the season, and made the first basket of the game off a backdoor cut assisted by Ryan Young.

Whitehead’s first-half performance led to a stronger start for the Blue Devils than they had against N.C. State. He scored 13 points in the first half against the Eagles, shooting 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. The freshman from Newark, N.J., continued his great 3-point shooting form, making four for a second-straight game. Given Whitehead’s significant improvement and Duke’s need for versatile scoring outputs, it is worth considering making him a permanent addition to the starting lineup. This would give him the opportunity for more playing time to expand his game while also giving the Blue Devils another offensive weapon to combat slow starts.

One word: Resilient

This season has featured many lineup changes with injuries and illnesses plaguing the team. However, against the Eagles, Duke stayed resilient and found a way to win despite the adversity it has faced. The victory marks the Blue Devils’ first road win of the season. It comes right after a disappointing game at N.C. State where Duke fell behind early and could never make it a sufficiently tight affair. The Blue Devils learned from those mistakes by starting faster and more aggressive against Boston College, bolstered by Whitehead’s strong first half.

To their credit, the Eagles were hard to put away—coming back from 14 points down to tie the game at 54-54 with under nine minutes remaining in the game. Duke did not fold under immense pressure, however. Rather, it stayed disciplined on defense, holding Boston College without a field goal for more than five minutes. Maintaining the lead eventually became dependent on the Blue Devils making free throws, and they performed particularly well in this aspect. This was a signature win to demonstrate Duke’s growth in its ability to adapt to adversity. 

One stat: 17-of-19 free throws

Duke could not escape Conte Forum without being able to make its free throws. It was able to get to the line attacking on the inside, finishing the game shooting 17-for-19 from the foul line. Boston College, on the other hand, shot just seven free throws, making six. Duke was able to force the Eagles into tough outside shots that they have not shot well throughout the season. The Blue Devils were careful with their hands, critical in not getting any of their strong performers into foul trouble.

It would be remiss to not mention the critical free throws that came in the fourth quarter. After the game was tied at 54 apiece, both Whitehead and Young were fouled and made four consecutive free throws to regain the lead. Boston College would not let up as it forced Duke into multiple turnovers and converted with a few made baskets to go up 64-63 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Filipowski got to the line after being fouled off an offensive rebound and sank both free throws to give Duke 65-64 lead and the eventual win. This was a close win on the road, and the Blue Devils look to build on this as they travel back home to face Pittsburgh Wednesday evening.


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