Preview: Duke (12-0) vs. Boston College (7-4)

The Blue Devils are looking to win a third game this week and 14th overall on the season.

Boston College EAGLES

7-4 Overall; 0-0 Away

G- 01 Dimitri Batten (8.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
G- 21 Olivier Hanlan (15.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.2 apg)
C- 24 Dennis Clifford (8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
G- 22 Aaron Brown (16.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
G- 33 7.8 (5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg.)


A season ago the Blue Devils had no answer for Hanlan as the 6-foot-4 Canadian guard scored a team-high 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. A year later and Hanlan continues to cause problems for opposing teams, and he’s also climbing the Eagles’ career scoring chart - currently sitting with 1,270 career points which ranks 25th all-time in program history. Hanlan is also a regular on the various Player of the Year awards including the Wooden, Naismith, and Cousy watch lists.

Also be sure to keep an eye on former Temple guard Aaron Brown who transferred into the Eagle this year. He’s been a very capable secondary talent to Hanlan this season, and has been the team’s leading scorer over the last month, posting 18.7 points per game in December.


The Eagles may be one of the tallest teams that Duke faces this season. The starting lineup goes 6’3, 6’4, 6’5, 6’5, and 7’0. That’s somewhat unremarkable, but the rest of the roster features seven players standing 6-foot-8 or taller with four players measuring 6-foot-11 or taller.

All told, the Eagles rank sixth in the nation in height according to Ken Pomeroy (as of 11/23), weighted by minutes played.

The best of the bunch has been the starting center, Dennis Clifford, who has returned from knee injuries over the past two seasons. Clifford leads the team in field goal percentage (.551), rebounding (5.8) and blocks (15).

Despite the general roster size, however, the Eagles are only out-rebounding their opponents by a +3.0 margin and are only shooting 44.9 percent from the field.

Where it could matter is on the wing with Brown and Hanlan both pushing 6-foot-5 along with 6-foot-3 Dimitri Batten. Those match-ups could mean extended periods of time for both Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon along with Justise Winslow.

Though the Eagles have lost four games out of 11, Boston College has held double digit leads in nine of those games including an 11-point lead over West Virginia at halftime before the Mountaineers outscored Boston College, 33-16, over an 11-minute span in the second half to build a 65-58 lead with 2:36 left. The trend continued against UMass when the Eagles held the Minutemen to just 24 first half points before watching their opponents go on a 23-6 second half time to take the lead and, ultimately, put the game away.

It was the polar opposite a season ago as Duke started the game on an 11-4 run in the first 4:12. Boston College responded with a 12-5 run over the next five minutes to tie it, 16-16, at the midway point of the half. Hanlan scored six of the 12 BC points.

The Blue Devils started the second half by scoring eight of the first nine points to build a 47-36 lead - the first double-digit advantage of the game. Eighteen unanswered Duke points near the midway point of the half pushed the lead to 71-44. The game was never closer than 20 the rest of the way.

Question To Be Answered

Next Lessons
Duke is a very young team, but a very talented one. Still, three of the team’s starters have never competed in an ACC regular season game. As the veterans and coaches will attest, it’s a totally different ballgame when league season rolls around.

"We're excited. We all go to 0-0," Coach 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 [against Wofford and Toledo] have really gotten us in conference mode."

Focusing on a particular matchup, Jahlil Okafor versus Clifford inside will pose some questions for the Duke freshman as Clifford has the size and experience to ask some different questions. It’s been a while since Duke has faced an opponent with a big man with the size and ability to match Okafor physically, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles don’t go at the Duke big man in hopes of picking up some early fouls.

Turning Over Their Opponents
The Eagles have some nice pieces and they’ve got some experienced players. However, when things have gone poorly for Boston College this season the catalyst has been the inability to protect the basketball. In the loss to UMass that 23-6 run was keyed by turnovers with BC finishing with 18 on the game. Against West Virginia and Dayton the Eagles coughed it up 17 times. On the season Boston College is committing 14 turnovers per game while recording just 13 assists per contest.


- The Blue Devils look to begin the season with 13 straight wins for the ninth time in school history and eighth time under Mike Krzyzewski.

- The Blue Devils have won 40 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the fourth longest streak in both Duke and ACC history.

- Duke has won each of the first 12 games by 10 or more points, marking the first time in program history it has accomplished that feat. The Blue Devils have trailed for just 5:55 through the first 12 games of the season. Duke’s largest deficit this season has been four points.

- Duke is averaging 93.3 points per game while shooting 57.1 percent from the field, including 67.3 percent on its two-point field goal attempts, in seven games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have a +33.9 scoring margin in those contests.

- Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow have started all 12 games for the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 47 times at Duke, including 27 times during the 1982-83 season. The trio combines to average 41.7 points, 17.2 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.

They Said It:

"The ACC is an unbelievable conference from No. 1 all the way down to No. 15," Christian said. "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." - Coach Jim Christian

The Prediction

The Eagles aren’t the weakest team Duke’s faced this season, nor are they anywhere close to the strongest. Still, it’s an ACC game and things get a little crazy around this time of year. A season ago the Eagles weren’t as good on offense as they are this season, but they also weren’t playing on the road. If this game was in Conte Forum, you could make a case for a close game. As it is Boston College is just 1-3 in neutral site games and has yet to play a true road game. On the flip side, Duke has returned from the holiday break with two games aimed at toughening the team up for the ACC grind. While the Blue Devils were never in any danger of losing against Toledo or Wofford, the cumulative minutes played this week could make for some periods of sluggish play. Accordingly, look for the Eagles to play the game closer than the 22 point spread. Duke should win their 14th game of the season and they will do it behind their three freshmen, but we’d be somewhat surprised if it was a blowout. Instead look for Duke to build a three to four possession lead early and maintain it until the eight minute mark of the second half before extending it for the final margin.

Duke - 84
Boston College - 67

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