DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—With each game, Mike Krzyzewski’s young Duke team seems to be growing up. And now—less than a month after an 0-2 league start—his Blue Devils are looking like a confident team that’s rounding into form.
DeMarcus Nelson scored 17 points to lead No. 10 Duke past Boston College 75-61 on Sunday, giving the Blue Devils their fifth straight win and pushing them near the top of the league standings.
Josh McRoberts had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Blue Devils (18-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Duke was picked to finish second in the league in the preseason, though the youngest roster of Krzyzewski’s 27-year tenure here also seemed likely to have plenty of inconsistency along the way. But so far, Duke’s defense has been too much for just about everybody—including a Boston College team that came in leading the ACC behind a pair of veteran senior starters.
And while the offense hasn’t been anything like Duke’s high-scoring teams of recent years, the Blue Devils are still doing enough to keep winning while they figure their way through the ACC race. It’s been enough to have their Hall of Fame coach sounding like a proud father.
“There’s not an easy game in our league,” Krzyzewski said. “Our kids are playing really hard. They’re trying and every game is a whole new thing.”
Duke has won the past six meetings, including all three since the Eagles (14-6, 6-2) joined the ACC. Duke won both meetings last year by two points, including the ACC tournament championship.
This time, the Blue Devils built a 10-point lead early in the second half and maintained control of the contest by shutting down the Eagles with their pressure defense. Duke shot 50 percent while holding Boston College to 35 percent and taking a 41-30 edge on the boards.
“We knew their physicality and their rebounding and the way they play,” said Nelson, who scored six straight points to give Duke a 40-32 halftime lead. “The kind of grinding style they play was their strength and we had to match that. We showed that we’re capable of doing that.”
Jared Dudley scored 17 points to lead the Eagles. But Sean Marshall, who came in as the team’s third-leading scorer at better than 16 points per game, struggled to a miserable showing.
The 6-foot-6 senior had averaged nearly 21 points in his previous nine games and was coming off a 22-point game against Florida State in which he hit the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. But he finished with seven points on 2-for-11 shooting with four turnovers, his second straight no-show against the Blue Devils. In last year’s 78-76 loss to Duke in the ACC championship, Marshall finished with two points on 1-for-4 shooting with four fouls in 20 minutes.
The Blue Devils contested every pass and tried to make the Eagles work for everything. It paid off, with Boston College managing just two field goals in the final 9 1/2 minutes as the game slipped away.
“I was surprised at how physical it was on our end as far as us trying to execute our offense,” Boston College coach Al Skinner said. “Usually it’s not quite that physical and I think we didn’t play as aggressively as we needed to on the offensive end.”
The Blue Devils took control with Nelson’s six straight points, then opened the second half with a stickback from Lance Thomas to push the margin to 42-32.
Boston College couldn’t manage much of a push afterward, hanging around though never seriously threatening. Their best push came when Dudley hit a 3 to make it 46-41, but Jon Scheyer answered with a 3 and David McClure drove around John Oates on consecutive possessions to push the lead back to double figures with 14:39 left.
Boston College got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Thomas, a 6-8 freshman, finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. But the Blue Devils took a hit when McClure, who hit the winning layup at the buzzer Thursday against Clemson, suffered an apparent left knee injury when he went down in a scramble with six minutes left. McClure clutched his knee—the same one that required surgery and forced him to redshirt last season—on the court for several minutes before being helped to the sideline. He did not return and Krzyzewski said he would be examined Sunday night.
At halftime, the school retired the No. 23 jersey of former all-American Shelden Williams, a two-time national defensive player of the year.