Boston College-Duke Preview
Duke saw a six-game win streak in ACC openers end a season ago.
The way the second-ranked Blue Devils are playing, it’s hard to see them suffering that same fate this season.
Duke and its star-studded freshmen have produced the nation’s second-best field-goal percentage as they look to take advantage of visiting Boson College’s defensive woes Saturday.
The Blue Devils are seeking a ninth 13-0 start while looking to extend the nation’s longest home win streak to 41 games.
Duke is one of six remaining unbeaten teams, though it’s the only one to win every game by at least 10 points. It’s the first time it has won 12 straight to start the season by double digits.
”We’re going to ACC play the way we want to go,” star center Jahlil Okafor said.
Okafor joins Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones as freshmen starters for the Blue Devils, and he’s quickly become a candidate for national player of the year honors. He is shooting a Division I-leading 68.5 percent for a Duke team at 52.9 percent to trail only No. 14 Notre Dame (55.4).
"If you don’t double Jah, it’s going to be tough," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And if you double him, he’s going to pass out. We have guys who can shoot."
The Blue Devils turned in identical 55.8 percent shooting performances in wins by 86-69 over Toledo on Monday and 84-55 over Wofford on Wednesday.
"We’re excited. We all go to 0-0," Krzyzewski said. "Four of these guys have never been on this journey so they’ll be surprised at how rigorous it is. But these two games have really gotten us in conference mode."
Duke fell 79-77 to the Fighting Irish in last season’s ACC opener, but should have an easier time this weekend. Boston College (7-4) went 4-14 in conference play a season ago, resulting in Jim Christian replacing Steve Donahue as coach.
The Eagles are allowing opponents to shoot 42.8 percent – the ACC’s second-worst mark. Duke leads all major conference teams by averaging 93.3 points at home.
Christian has plenty of experience at his disposal with four seniors complementing leading returning scorer Olivier Hanlan in the starting lineup.
"The ACC is an unbelievable conference from No. 1 all the way down to No. 15," Christian told Boston College’s official website. "You have to be at the top of your game every single day in order to succeed. Our experience and mentality are two important factors as we begin league play at one of the toughest venues in the country."
The Eagles’ top scorer this season is newcomer Aaron Brown, who averages 16.1 points after previously playing at Temple and Southern Mississippi. Brown scored 11 points for the Owls when they upset a fifth-ranked Duke team 78-73 on Jan. 4, 2012, and he started in a loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium the season before.
Hanlan is averaging 19.0 points in three meetings with Duke, scoring 25 in an 89-68 home loss Feb. 8. Quinn Cook, the Blue Devils’ second-leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, scored 21 in that contest.
Duke has taken 17 of 19 meetings, including all seven at home.