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CHESTNUT HILL - Powered by a perfect start from the field, Boston College led No. 5/4 Duke by six points four minutes in, but the Eagles succumbed to a horrible scoring drought of nearly 10 minutes and was blown away by the Blue Devils, 75-50, on Sunday night.
"We played what I think is the best offensive team in the country, holding them to 18 points with three minutes left to go in the first half, I thought we did a great job" said Boston College head coach Steve Donahue.
The Eagles (8-19, 3-10 ACC) made their first five shots -- two of which were three pointers from Ryan Anderson -- and led 13-7 with 16:41 to play. BC, however, could not sustain the momentum and was held scoreless for 9:11 until Anderson made a free throw with 7:30 left. The Eagles would not make another field goal until Matt Humphrey's three with 2:25 to play in the half, marking a stretch of 14:16 without a field goal on 13 consecutive misses for Boston College.
"It was 18-14 for a long stretch," said Donahue. "Like I said to you at the beginning of the year, I'm trying to really judge these guys about what we teach them and how they go about executing what they ask. They did that flawlessly on defense in the first half up until the last three minutes."
Despite all of this, the Eagles were only down by nine points at the break, 30-21. The Blue Devils (23-4, 10-2 ACC) had their own problems in the half, coughing the ball up 11 times while making 12-of-27 field goals (44.4 percent). BC shot 31.8 percent (7-for-22) in the opening twenty minutes. Duke opened the second half on a 6-0 run and extended the run to 11-4 with 15:28 to go, boosting its lead to 45-21, and the Blue Devils didn't look back.
"We went small, and I thought it enabled us to get open shots," Donahue said, whose team was out-rebounded 45-21 and 13-2 on the offensive glass. "That being said, the Plumlees are a physical handful."
Austin Rivers -- son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers -- put on a show, making 7-of-13 baskets to finish with 16 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Seth Curry added 18 points and five boards despite turning the ball over six times. Miles Plumlee scored nine and Andre Dawkins added 13 points off the bench for the Blue Devils, who made 25-of-57 field goals to shoot 43.9 percent from the floor.
"It was huge for us," said Rivers about his team's ability to finish in the second half after falling behind by 20 points in the final half of their comeback win over N.C. State. "That was the focus all week. It was a great win for us to come back, it was huge for us to come back, but at the same time, you know, that's not who we should be. We really wanted to come out here today and really get us up by that big margin, and it was just huge. I think we need to take this momentum into Florida State."
Anderson led the Eagles with 21 points and eight rebounds. Matt Humphrey scored 12 points, Jordan Daniels had six points and Dennis Clifford struggled again, finishing with five points and four rebounds. BC was held to 34.1 percent shooting.
Boston College has a chance to rebound when it faces Wake Forest on February 25. Duke, meanwhile, faces Florida St. in its next tilt on February 23.
CHESTNUT HILL - Led by two three pointers from Ryan Anderson, the Boston College Eagles started the game razor sharp from the field, making their first five field goals to grab a 13-7 lead. Unfortunately, they fell victim to old habits and fell into a horrible scoring drought in which they were held scoreless for 9:11 and missed 13 consecutive field goals, allowing the Duke Blue Devils to jump back into the game and take a 30-21 lead into halftime on Sunday night at Conte Forum.
Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, led all scorers with 12 points. Mile Plumlee was virtually uncontested in the paint, making 3-of-4 field goals to score seven points. Seth Curry added six points for Duke.
Anderson finished with a team-high nine shots in the first half for Boston College. Matt Humphrey made 2-of-4 shots -- both threes -- and had two field goals to finish with eight points in the half. Jordan Daniels added four points.
Duke shot 44.4 percent in the opening half while BC made 31.8 percent of its shots.
CHESTNUT HILL - Boston College faces arguably its biggest test of the season when it hosts No. 5/4 Duke on Sunday evening at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA. This is the first time the Eagles are facing the Blue Devils this season, a team that has won nine of ten games against them in their home building since joining the ACC in 2005-06.
John Cahill, a graduate student and Eagles reserve guard, maintained that every game, and not just this game, is big for a young and growing Boston College squad. But for everyone else, yes, it is a big one.
"I think for us, every game is a big game," said Cahill. "For everyone else, it's the biggest game of the year, for sure. You can just feel it, being around this building today, there's a lot more energy."
Naturally, excitement was in the air this morning at Boston College, and the same goes for the players. Cahill noted the increased energy of the team today, which is encouraging for Eagles fans.
"Shootaround today, there was a lot of energy," Cahill said. "Everyone's talking, pretty excited to get this game going. A lot of people have dreamed about it growing up, playing Duke, playing a top five team. Just a lot of energy -- more emotion than we've seen tonight lately."
Of course, when you play a team like Duke -- one of the best in the country -- it's natural to have some jitters. Add the fact that the Eagles have nine freshmen on the roster who have never faced the Blue Devils in their careers, and the jitters normally multiply. However, Cahill hasn't seen any from his teammates this morning.
"Not that I can see," said Cahill. "These guys have played in some pretty big games already. They've played at Carolina, they've played Florida State. I think most of the jitters have gotten out of the way. I'm sure there will be a couple here and there, being Duke and all, but for the most part they've gotten it out of the way and they're ready to play."
The Eagles are faced with a task that only four team have accomplished this season: beat Duke. The Blue Devils enter Sunday's game with a 22-4 record, not to mention a 9-2 mark in conference play. Cahill insisted that the Eagles will need to lockdown the perimeter, as well as keep their own offense in line, if they want to win.
"Obviously, we have to do a good job on their three point shooters and getting out and contesting their shots, making it tough," said Cahill. "We have to do a good job on the boards. They have a big team and they're pretty athletic, but keeping them off the boards, keeping it to one shot.
"On offense, we just have to run our offense, stay poised and really make them work on defense. They get in the passing lanes a lot, I think just the back door cuts, making them move around a lot will be big for us and get some open shots."
Having a sellout crowd is usually a plus, too, and that's the case on Sunday. However, plenty of Blue Devils fans have been in the stands in years past. However, if the Eagles fans can make their presence felt, it will be a big boost.
"Hopefully it's all BC because they help us," Cahill said. "I think a large crowd will help us bring a lot more energy and will be a big help for us really."
CHESTNUT HILL - The time has come. Boston College and Duke will meet in the Eagles' biggest game of the season in less than two hours here inside Silvio O. Conte Forum.
I arrived at 3:00 p.m. EDT, and as expected, the arena was silent. Even now there are only a few people spread throughout the building. It's the calm before the storm. Players from either team haven't ventured out onto the court, but Ryan Anderson was the first player seen this afternoon walking around the stadium.
The Eagles have played several very close games against the Blue Devils in recent history here at Conte Forum. Still, Duke owns a 9-1 record in games played in Chestnut Hill since the 2005-06 season, when the Eagles joined the ACC. In the last three home losses, the Eagles have lost by an average of 4.3 points. An upset is unlikely, but anything is possible.
Austin Rivers and the No. 5/4 Duke Blue Devils invade Conte Forum to face Ryan Anderson and the Boston College Eagles on Sunday evening in Chestnut Hill, MA.
Event: Duke Blue Devils (22-4, 9-2 ACC) vs. Boston College Eagles (8-18, 3-9 ACC).
Date/Time: Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Silvio O. Conte Forum (Capacity: 8,606), Chestnut Hill, MA.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's game between the Eagles and Blue Devils will be televised nationally on ESPNU, with Jon Sciambi and Hubert Davis on the broadcast. In addition, the game can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Jon Meterparel and Malcolm Huckaby on the call.
Odds: Duke is a 15 1/2-point favorite over Boston College on Sunday.
Boston College 2011-12 Roster: Salah Abdo, Gabe Moton, Deirunas Visockas, Eddie Odio, KC Caudill, Jordan Daniels, Ryan Anderson, John Cain Carney, Matt Humphrey, Lonnie Jackson, John Cahill, Dennis Clifford, Peter Rehnquist, Danny Rubin, Patrick Heckmann. Head Coach: Steve Donahue.
Duke 2011-12 Roster: Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, Mason Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Michael Gbinije, Josh Hairston, Andre Dawkins, Miles Plumlee, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Marshall Plumlee, Todd Zafirovski. Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski.
Series History: The Eagles and Blue Devils have clashed 15 times in the past, with Duke claiming 13 victories. BC joined the ACC in the 2005-06 season, and ever since, the Blue Devils have unsurprisingly dominated the Eagles, going 9-1. During that stretch, the Eagles' lone victory came on February 15, 2009, when BC prevailed over then No. 6 Duke, 80-74. BC has played Duke very closely at Conte Forum, as their last three losses to the Blue Devils at home have been by an average of 4.3 points.
Last Time Out: Ryan Anderson finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Eagles' 81-65 loss to the Terrapins on Thursday. Lonnie Jackson added 19 points and Dennis Clifford was the only other Eagle who reached double digits in scoring with 11 points. Matt Humphrey, who has been playing better in the second half of the season, had five points.
The Blue Devils suffered a major scare when unranked ACC foe N.C. State took a 20-point lead, but they recovered to capture a 78-73 win. Rivers, the team's leading scorer, finished with 16 points in 33 minutes while Seth Curry, who is Duke's second-leading scorer (13.4 PPG) and the team's assists leader (2.5 APG), had a game-high 26 points and four rebounds. Mason Plumlee had nine points and 10 boards while his brother, Miles Plumlee, had four points and six rebounds. Andre Dawkins added nine points and both Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston had six points off the bench. Duke won despite making only 25-of-69 field goals (36.2 percent shooting) and 8-of-29 three-pointers (27.6 percent).
Statistical Leaders: Ryan Anderson has emerged as the Eagles' premier freshman talent. He leads the team in scoring (10.4 PPG) and rebounding (6.9 RPG) and is shooting 40.9 percent from the floor. Humphrey is averaging 10.2 points, the only other player on the roster to average 10 or more points, and Clifford is averaging 9.1 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Austin Rivers is the Blue Devils' leading scorer, averaging 15.0 points, and is the team's second-leading assist man (2.1 APG). Rivers is also tied for the team lead in steals (9.0 SPG). Seth Curry is Duke's second-leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points, but averages a team-best 2.5 assists. Mason Plumlee averages 11.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
Storyline: One game for all the glory. OK, not really, but this is still an important game for both teams. Boston College isn't going anywhere this season, unless they win the ACC Tournament, but this is a big game for head coach Steve Donahue and his team to gauge where they are at. All season, the Eagles have made progress. Now, they can show it.
Duke isn't exactly in need of a win -- they have 22 of them -- but this is one of those games that the Blue Devils just can't lose if they want to be taken seriously. Duke enters the game ranked No. 5/4 in the country, so a loss to the unranked, bottom-dwelling Eagles would not help them. Regardless, though, the Blue Devils should be safe to make the NCAA Tournament, but you know that Mike Krzyzewski would blow a gasket if his team lost to the Eagles.
Anything is possible in sports. That being said, it would be a massive upset if the Eagles thumped the Blue Devils. Still, the two teams have been known to play very close games over the years -- in the last three home losses against Duke, the Eagles have lost by an average of 4.3 points. Expect a lot of energy from BC to start, but the key will be continuing to keep their composure once the Blue Devils go on a run. And make no mistake, that will happen. Duke is just too good.
Players To Watch: Austin Rivers, who is the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, will be the best player on the court, as the future first round NBA draft pick has been lightning it up this year. Seth Curry is also an extremely talented guard, and the backcourt of Rivers and Curry could (and most likely will) give the Eagles fits. BC should get good games out of Ryan Anderson, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, as well as Matt Humphrey. Jordan Daniels, Lonnie Jackson and Dennis Clifford will all need to step up if the Eagles are to pull off the monumental upset.
Prediction: Duke is just too talented to pick against, but that being said, people don't give Boston College enough credit. This Eagles team can play with anybody, which they have proved this season. Being a young team, they still have their problems, but when everything is clicking, watch out. BC should come out with a lot of energy, and Duke may not be fully ready for this game, thinking it will be an easy win. The Eagles will keep it close early on, but the Blue Devils will ultimately prevail. Final Score: Duke 85, Boston College 69.
Picture this. Around nine o'clock on Sunday night, fans storming the court at Conte Forum to celebrate with the Boston College Eagles after they upset the No. 5/4 ranked Duke Blue Devils. Likely? Not at all. Possible? Yes, absolutely. The Blue Devils may be 15-point favorites over the Eagles in their meeting at 6:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday evening in Chestnut Hill (ESPNU/WRKO), but believe it or not, Duke is not a shoe in to win. Here's why.
DUKE HAS SHOWN ITS VULNERABILITY
Duke may be the No. 5 team in the country, but it has certainly had its fair share of unranked moments. Most recently, the Blue Devils nearly coughed away a conference game against the unranked N.C. State Wolfpack, who built a 20 point lead before Duke finally came back to secure a five-point victory. The basketball season is long and features its ups and downs, so it is unfair to expect an top tier team to be perfect, but that game is troubling. If N.C. State can almost beat Duke, maybe Boston College, which only lost by five points in its last game against the Wolfpack, can do so, too.
BOSTON COLLEGE AND DUKE PLAY CLOSE CONTESTS
For some reason, the Eagles and Blue Devils have played close games when they meet. In the last three home losses, the average margin of victory for Duke has been 4.3 points. That's not a lot. This is the first time in the Steve Donahue era that the Eagles will host the Blue Devils, and Donahue has proven to be a master motivator. They'll need it Sunday.
THE EAGLES ARE ALREADY COUNTED OUT
Boston College has already been passed over in this game, and many others. Here's the problem, the Eagles aren't pushovers. They've proven that time and time again, hanging around with tough opponents and even winning three conference games. All things considered, BC has faired much better than almost everybody predicted. Duke enters this game standing tall, and it will probably be tough for the Blue Devils to get up for a lowly BC.
THE VERDICT: Will the Eagles upset the Blue Devils? No, probably not. All signs point to Duke storming into Conte Forum and pulling the rug out from under them. Yet games aren't won on paper. If they were, BC would have zero victories this season and both North Carolina and Kentucky would have been undefeated. There's another factor involved: heart. BC certainly has plenty of that, and if they find their stride early, we could be in for a treat.
Doc Rivers is a proud father, and for good reason. He has four children who have carried the last name well, and he has done so while juggling a career as an NBA player and now the head coach of the Boston Celtics. Rivers talked with Steve Bulpett about one of his sons, Austin Rivers, who will be in town on Sunday as Duke faces Boston College.
Doc has had to juggle a unique relationship with Austin, being a parent while being a coach.
"It's not hard," Doc said. "I give advice when asked. I'm a big believer in letting the coaches coach them and let the parent be the parent. And I have strong opinion about that. I just think too many parents are involved in ways that sometimes make it harder. You can't live through your kids. You've got to allow them to do well and make mistakes, too. You just have to try to always be there when they need to talk." (via Boston Herald)
The senior Rivers will not be able to attend Sunday's game in Chestnut Hill, as his Boston Celtics face the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hill, MI at the same time. Check out more of Rivers' comments on his son and the balancing act here.
One season's worth of work comes down to one game as the young Boston College Eagles (8-18, 3-9 ACC) match wits with the No. 4 ranked Duke Blue Devils (22-4, 9-2 ACC) at 6:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday night. (TV/Radio: ESPNU/WRKO).
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