No. 17 Duke braces for ‘tough, physical’ Boston College

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Jon Scheyer directed No. 17 Duke to a victory against a ranked team for the first time as head coach of the Blue Devils this week.

There’s no time to rejoice, however, as Duke (7-2) opens Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday against Boston College (5-3) in Durham, N.C.

“It’s crazy that we’re already playing conference games, and we knew this would be a really tough stretch,” Scheyer said. “I think the tendency is that we want to let up. We can’t let up at all. We know Boston College is going to be a physical, tough team.”

Duke topped No. 25 Ohio State 81-72 in Wednesday night’s home game.

Boston College is coming off an 88-67 loss the same night at Nebraska.

“We’ve got to stay the course,” Eagles coach Earl Grant said. “We’re eight games in and we have to learn from this experience.”

Duke’s freshman-heavy lineup has started to crank up production.

Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead were injured coming into the season, so it’s taking time for them to round into form. Lively had 11 points and five rebounds against Ohio State, while Whitehead provided five points off the bench. Both players logged fewer than 18 minutes.

“They missed the most crucial part of any time of the year for freshmen, and that’s the preseason,” Scheyer said. “Dereck missed over a month, and Dariq, almost three months. And so for them, they’ve been working hard, and it’s going to take them some time.”

Duke freshman forward Kyle Filipowski has scored in double figures in every game and looks ready for the uptick in ACC competition.

The Blue Devils prepared for league play with a tough schedule that included losses against Kansas and Purdue.

“You think about the teams we’ve played … I think it’s prepared us well for the rest of this year,” Scheyer said. “We’ve played different kinds of teams. I think the more games we’re in like this (vs. Ohio State), the better we’ll be down the stretch.”

Duke’s defense has been relatively consistent. In 18 total halves of play, opponents have been held to fewer than 30 points in 11 of them.

Makai Ashton-Langford is Boston College’s leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, though he has posted a double-figure total in only one of his past four games.

Boston College’s most recent visit to Durham came in the 2020-21 season when fans weren’t permitted at Cameron Indoor Stadium because of the pandemic. Duke won 83-82 with Scheyer filling in that night for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was in quarantine because a family member had tested positive for COVID-19.

Grant said the Eagles didn’t handle this season’s first true road test well at Nebraska.

“Learn from what we did,” he said. “We could do a lot better job of staying poised.”

Even with the notion that the ACC as a whole might be down, the Blue Devils insist they’ll be on full alert Saturday.

“I would never say the ACC is weak,” Duke guard Jeremy Roach said. “Every team from top to bottom can hoop with anybody in the country, so we’ve got to be ready every night for that battle.”

–Field Level Media

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