BOSTON (AP)—Shamari Spears planted himself right in the lane that Craig Smith vacated and picked up where his predecessor left off.
The Boston College freshman scored 23 points in his college debut, and Jared Dudley added 19 points and 11 rebounds Friday to lead No. 15 BC to a 86-47 opening night victory over New Hampshire.
“He’s a big body who throws his weight around in there, so he’s going to have a lot of good games,” Dudley said. “I’m not surprised he fit in. In practice you could see him throwing us around and you say, that’s a big freshman right there.”
In Spears, the Eagles may have found a replacement for Craig Smith, who led the Eagles to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and the NCAA Sweet 16 last year before being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The forward from North Carolina by way of a New Jersey prep school was 8-for-10 from the floor, went 7-for-11 from the line and also pulled down six rebounds before leaving in the final two minutes to a raucous ovation.
“For a first game out, he clearly made an impact,” Skinner said. “You’ve got to be pleased about that.”
Dudley said Spears has soft hands, like Smith did, and can move people around with his body. At 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds—Smith was 6-foot-7 and 250— Spears had his way with New Hampshire’s smaller lineup but might have more trouble when BC gets into the ACC part of its schedule.
“He’s got to know it’s not always going to be that easy,” said Dudley, who sat down next to Spears at the postgame news conference, looked at Spears’ line in the scoresheet and said, “No assists?”
“You can have zero assists if you play like this,” he said with a smile.
Spears went to the line in the first 14 seconds of the game and gave BC the lead for good on a layup that made it 12-11 with 14:31 left in the first half. By the time Dudley sank two free throws with 10:09 left in the first to complete a 22-3 run, the game was all but over.
“I’m not going to lie. I was definitely nervous,” Spears said. “I just wanted to come out here and have a solid game, make sure we get the win.”
Tyrece Gibbs scored 11 to lead New Hampshire in a matchup that was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Sean Marshall scored 13 for BC, which won its opener for the 32nd time in 34 years. BC held the Wildcats to three inside baskets in the first half and outrebounded them 47-20 for the game.
“I did not expect us to get beat that bad around the basket,” New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said.
Boston College was without shot-blocker Sean Williams and forward Akida McLain, who for the second consecutive season began the season under suspension.