Confident on road, No. 7 Duke travels to Boston College

NCAA Basketball

Duke has improved when it comes to dealing with game pressure, and that has paid off for the seventh-ranked Blue Devils.

They’ve won three straight games, including the last two contests that had single-digit margins coming down the stretch. Their most recent victory came Saturday night at Syracuse.

“We love playing road games because of that kind of stuff,” Duke freshman guard Cassius Stanley told reporters recently. “We’ve got to win regardless. We’ve got to do what we have to do.”

Tuesday night, the Blue Devils will be back on the road, seeking to stretch their winning streak to four games when they visit Boston College for an Atlantic Coast Conference meeting.

Duke (18-3, 8-2) has won 13 of the past 14 meetings with the Eagles, but the setback came in the most recent trip to Boston on Dec. 9, 2017.

Boston College (11-11, 5-6) had lost 12 in a row to North Carolina before pulling out Saturday night’s 71-70 road victory.

Duke’s 97-88 victory at Syracuse on Saturday night reflected the most points for the Blue Devils in an ACC road game in 18 years. Part of the scoring came from a season-high 29 made free throws (on 33 attempts).

Seeing how Duke sliced through Syracuse’s zone could factor into how Boston College approaches the game. The Eagles turned to a zone set-up for some late-game possessions in the North Carolina game.

“We don’t play zone a lot but they were attacking the basket,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said.

The Eagles also will need to find an answer for Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr. The center put up 26 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in the Syracuse game. He was named ACC Player of the Week, and his 17 boards matched Patrick Ewing and Adonal Foyle for the most ever by a visiting player at the Carrier Dome.

“Not that he hasn’t before, but he played really hungry,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We needed it.”

The Blue Devils are used to having big production from Carey, who is averaging 17.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

“I see it every day so nothing is really new anymore,” Duke guard Tre Jones said. “He has been so dominant down low.”

Duke got freshman forward Wendell Moore Jr. back on Saturday. He played for the first time in nearly a month since surgery for a broken bone in his hand and posted five points in 24 minutes.

Tuesday’s meeting will be a rematch of Duke’s 88-49 romp past Boston College at home on Dec. 31. That makes it the second matchup for Eagles guard Derryck Thornton, who began his career with the Blue Devils before transferring to Southern California and ending up with Boston College. Thornton had six points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field in the first meeting with Duke.

Thornton made key plays at both ends of the court in the North Carolina game.

“Derryck got us settled down and took care of the basketball,” Christian said.

The Blue Devils had only two players in double-figure scoring in the first Boston College game, which marked their ACC home opener. Freshman forward Matthew Hurt racked up 25 points and Moore had 11.

This time, Boston College will have senior forward Nik Popovic in action, potentially making a difference from the first meeting with Duke when he was out with an injury. Popovic provided 10 points in 24 minutes against North Carolina.

Duke was without assistant coach Jon Scheyer for the Syracuse game. Earlier in the day, he had an emergency appendectomy.

–Field Level Media

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