Duke has a losing record since taking over the No. 1 ranking in the country three weeks ago. While each loss in that stretch has been discouraging for its own reasons, the Blue Devils seem particularly deflated by their most recent defeat.
The sixth-ranked Blue Devils look to bounce back from a home loss to their archrivals and avoid consecutive defeats for the first time this season Sunday when they visit ACC rival Boston College.
Duke (20-4, 7-3) claimed the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll Jan. 26 following an 18-1 start during which it went 3-0 against ranked teams.
Since then, however, the Blue Devils have dropped three of five games, with each loss coming against a Top 25 opponent. They gave up a wide-open layup in the final second of a 70-68 road loss to then-No. 6 Wake Forest on Jan. 28 before getting routed 74-47 at previously 10th-ranked Clemson on Feb. 4.
While both those outcomes were frustrating, the Blue Devils could have an even harder time rebounding from their 101-87 home loss to No. 3 North Carolina on Wednesday night.
Duke allowed an opponent to reach 100 points for the first time since Jan. 5, 2000, in its fourth straight home loss to its archrival.
“We come to Duke to win these games,” said senior guard Greg Paulus, whose career will end without a home victory over the Tar Heels. “It hurts. It really does, and now I don’t get another chance to do it at home.”
The Blue Devils, though, still have plenty of chances to get back on track before their rematch at Chapel Hill to close the season and, eventually, a trip to the NCAA tournament.
“This game is kind of an emotional game and we’re coming off an exhausting game, win or lose,” sophomore forward Kyle Singler said Wednesday. “You just have to refocus yourself and move on to the next game and, as Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) would say, ‘Next play.’
“This game is not going to kill us. It was a very good game and the type of game that you’re going to play in March. We’re going to get them again at the end of the season, and hopefully we just don’t run into another bump in the road. We just have to get better from here on out.”
Duke has to like its chances of beginning that process Sunday. Though they’ve faltered lately, the Blue Devils have lost back-to-back games only once since the start of last season. They’re 8-1 in games following losses in that stretch.
The Blue Devils have also dominated the Eagles—winning all three games at Conte Forum, four straight in the regular season in ACC play since Boston College joined the conference in 2005, eight in a row overall and nine of 10 all-time meetings.
Boston College (18-8, 6-5) had won five straight ACC games before suffering consecutive defeats last week. The Eagles lost 93-76 to seventh-ranked Wake Forest on Sunday before falling 87-77 against No. 12 Clemson on Tuesday, dropping to 1-4 against ranked opponents.
That’s a record Boston College coach Al Skinner hopes to improve upon Sunday.
“That’s the great thing about this league,” he said. “Of course I’m disappointed about this loss, but there’s another opportunity coming up. It gives us a chance to reboot.”
Singler, who had 22 points and went 9-for-15 from the field against North Carolina after being held to 9.3 points and 23.7 percent (9-for-38) shooting over his previous three games, led Duke with 24 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-80 win over Boston College last Feb. 9.
Eagles guard Tyrese Rice had 28 points and seven assists in that game, and is averaging 25.0 points and shooting 59.3 percent (16-for-27) in his last two games against the Blue Devils.
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