Duke escapes Boston College with 62-61 win

lkeeley@newsobserver.comFebruary 10, 2013 

— To have a great season, Mike Krzyzewski said, a team has to fight human nature. The Blue Devils were coming off a big win against N.C. State, a blizzard delayed their arrival to Boston, and games against Carolina and Maryland loom next week. In simplest terms, Duke’s game at Boston College was a trap game. And the Blue Devils came oh-so-close to being trapped. But thanks to a last-second defensive stand that drew from the pregame scouting report, the Blue Devils escaped a hostile Conde Forum with a 62-61 victory. “It just shows that we’re tough and together,” Seth Curry said. “Last year’s team definitely would not have won this type of game. We fought hard. Nobody really got down, nobody really panicked when we were down five toward the end of the game. We just made plays and shared the ball and got shots.” No. 4 Duke (21-2, 8-2 in the ACC) was down 61-56 with 2:15 left in the game. But Boston College (10-13, 2-8) did not score the rest of the way, and the Duke offense, which looked out of sorts all night, came through in the clutch. Coming out of a timeout, Krzyzewski drew up a play designed to get Quinn Cook a 3-point shot from the corner. That’s exactly what happened, and Cook hit it to close the gap to 61-59. “I thought he was reluctant to shoot today, and I don’t know why,” Krzyzewski said of Cook. “These guys, in order to get better, they have to be in positions to hit big shots.” Mason Plumlee was the next Duke player to be in a position to hit a big shot—two, in fact. Plumlee, who is only hitting 57.6 percent of his free throws this season, went to the line with his team down two with 46 seconds left in the game. He hit them both. “I just, I knew they were in,” he said. “I just had the feeling that I knew they were going in. I just got up there and knocked them down.” The Eagles’ Joe Rahon missed a 3-pointer at the other end, the Eagles third miss in the final two minutes of the game. Plumlee grabbed the rebound and was sent back to the line after a quick foul. This time, he missed the first one, and, after he made the second, Duke held a 62-61 lead. Boston College called timeout with 18 seconds remaining, setting up a final play. “Coach, he knows what to do,” Plumlee said. “He knew (Ryan) Anderson was going to set the ball screen, so he put Rasheed on Anderson because they kept coming off the ball screen.” Anderson, a 6-foot-8 forward, did come set a high ball screen, and the 6-foot-4 Sulaimon was there to bounce off of it and pick up Olivier Hanlan, who already had a game-high 20 points. The switch disrupted Hanlan enough so that he couldn’t drive the to the basket, so he pulled up and released a jumper halfway down the right side of the lane. It clanked off the rim, and Tyler Thornton out-muscled Anderson, and the final buzzer sounded with players from both teams lying on the floor, fighting for the ball. Duke’s defense—a liability last season—sealed the win. “For me, there’s no better feeling than to win a game that way,” Krzyzewski said. “Really, sitting on the floor and that red light goes off, it’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty cool thing.” The wild finish was hard to envision after the 27-27 first half, during which neither team had any offensive rhythm. Duke was out-of-sync in part due to their arrival Sunday morning, throwing off their regular routine of arriving the night before games. The halftime talk was “firey,” Curry said, as Krzyzewski challenged his team. The Blue Devils picked up their level of play—and so did Boston College. When the Eagles’ Eddie Odio dunked right through Mason Plumlee’s outstretched arm midway through the second half, a new feeling came into Conte Arena. Suddenly, what had been a half-empty spaced sounded loud, and it kept getting louder as more people rushed across the snowy Chestnut Hill campus. But the home fans didn’t get what they wanted. Duke escaped the trap.

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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