No. 21 Duke poised to shake off rust against BC

There was going to be a break in the schedule when Duke decided to scrap remaining nonconference games last month.

The 21st-ranked Blue Devils weren’t expecting a layoff this long.

With two Atlantic Coast Conference games postponed last week because of coronavirus issues with opponents, that has stretched the period of time between games.

Duke (3-2, 1-0 ACC) tries again Wednesday night when Boston College (2-7, 0-3) is slated to visit Durham, N.C.

“It hurts every time,” Duke sophomore Wendell Moore Jr. said of the postponed games. “Really just snatching that rug from underneath us. We’ve been preparing. For the Pitt game, we prepared two-three days before, getting ready for the game and after our last practice, before our game prep, we found out that we weren’t going to play. It stings every time. It really never gets any easier — all we can do is just move forward and look forward to the games that we will have.”

Duke hasn’t played since a 75-65 victory at Notre Dame on Dec. 16. Since then, games vs. Pittsburgh and at Florida State were postponed. The Blue Devils made the trip to Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday before the late-night announcement that Saturday night’s game was called off.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who didn’t travel for the Florida State game following close contact with a family member who tested positive for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine through at least Friday. Associate head coach Jon Scheyer will be in charge when Krzyzewski isn’t with the team.

Boston College had offensive woes in Saturday’s 76-64 home loss to Louisville. The Eagles shot 33.3 percent from the field, including 8-for-33 on 3-pointers.

Sophomore guard Jay Heath’s career-high 20 points weren’t enough to make up for that. Guard Wynston Tabbs has been hampered by ailments, perhaps limiting his impact.

Coach Jim Christian said the wayward shooting was tough to deal with.

“Just make shots,” he said. “It’s the game of basketball, in this league there are some really good defensive teams, this is a game you’ve got to make shots.”

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The key might be avoiding pitfalls in other areas when the shooting is off, Christian said. The Eagles gave up 10 first-half offensive rebounds to Louisville.

“Offense can frustrate players,” the coach said. “The full-court effort, make or miss, that’s where you grow. I’m happy with their effort, happy with their togetherness.”

Some of the offensive struggles have deflected from good aspects in other areas.

“We’re not capitalizing and making the defense pay when they break down,” Christian said. “We have to do that. That’s the next step for our team.”

Boston College is one of four teams winless in ACC play.

“We’ll bounce back. We just have to find a way to win one,” Christian said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself and get away from doing the things you’re doing well. We had opportunities to win our last two ACC games. We just have to take advantage of them.”

Duke has had troubles with ball handling. Boston College used a pressing defense for much of the game with Louisville, so that strategy might continue.

“It gives the other team some things to think about,” Christian said.

Duke displayed improved control on offense in the Notre Dame game, albeit three weeks ago.

“(We were able to) keep the turnovers down, take better shots, get teammates open,” Moore said. “For us, that’s been a big focus and I think we’ve been improving on it greatly.”

–Field Level Media


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