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BC Men’s Basketball Takes the 75-59 Loss to Duke

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College fell 75-59 to #17 Duke to open ACC play today.

Slow offense was yet again the defining aspect of the game in the opening minutes. Makai Ashton-Langford scored the game’s opening points with a layup that was scored for goaltending. With 16:14 minutes left in the first half, each team had just 4 points.

DeMarr Langford Jr. – who has not been starting recently – was introduced, and I just think the BC offense is much more potent with him on the floor (even if the unit still struggles as a whole). He found an open Chas Kelley, who promptly drilled a 3 to give BC the early 7-6 lead. Also of note was highly touted Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead picking up two quick fouls.

However, it was in the paint that Duke created issues for BC. Starting 7’1 center Quinten Post, who is yet to take the court this season, was sorely missed today. 6’10 Ryan Young, 7’1 Dereck Lively II, and 7’0 Kyle Filipowski formed a dangerous trio for Duke that BC really struggled to contain.

DeMarr Langford hit a tough and-1 bucket for a three-point offensive possession, and after 10 minutes the Eagles were still very much in the game by a score of 15-14. Defensively, they were managing to compete – forcing turnovers, contesting jump shots – but offensively they just could not find a rhythm. Duke forced tough shot after tough shot, and some full-court pressure made life for Kelley and Zackery very uncomfortable. The latter picked up his second foul with 8 minutes still to play in the first half, and along with Devin McGlockton found himself in early foul trouble.

With 6 minutes left in the half, Duke began to pull away. Dereck Lively slammed home an alley–oop to put Duke up 22-16, and BC’s offense sputtered to a halt. Similarly to the Nebraska game, BC just stopped scoring. Thankfully, Makai Ashton-Langford – who had a brief injury scare with a hamstring strain – was able to return to the game. He found CJ Penha for a tough layup that cut BC’s deficit to 6, but some atrocious decision-making and sloppy turnovers on BC’s part helped Duke’s lead grow to 28-18. With 3 minutes to play in the half, Bickerstaff took an elbow to the face and exited straight to the locker room. For a team suffering from so many injuries, it was not at all what BC needed – especially against Duke’s size down low.

At half, BC was somehow only down 35-23. The Eagles shot 9/33 from the floor, including an atrocious 1/10 from downtown. Defensively, a mix of zone and man defense seemed to keep Duke off-balance. Without Bickerstaff, however, Duke was getting into the paint at will and was crashing the offensive glass.

Thankfully, Bickerstaff was able to return to the contest. Ashton-Langford, however, was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Coming out of halftime, Penha hit a silky scoop layup and then hit a 3 on the following possession. BC trailed 39-28 with 17 minutes in the game. BC managed to hang around, with Zackery scoring 7 quick points to cut Duke’s lead to 10.

Perhaps the most exciting news of the game, however, was Prince Aligbe returning to the floor after missing the last 6 games with 14 to play in the game. BC badly needs his offense and athleticism on this team, and seeing him back on the floor was huge for the team.

However, Duke was quickly able to restore its 15 point lead, and McGlockton picked up his fourth personal foul – forcing raw freshman Armani Mighty into the game. Duke’s athleticism and shotmaking began to be felt, and their lead just continued to grow. With 6:15 to play, Duke led 63-46, and they went on to win 75-59.

Despite the unsightly numbers, I think this loss was much less disheartening than the Nebraska one. Duke is a great team, and with BC’s injuries their strengths lined up perfectly with BC’s weaknesses in the paint. I thought BC’s offense, while still definitely a painful struggle, looked a bit more fluid and consistent at generating decent shots at times. The efficiency numbers have to improve – there were several open looks for guys that just needed to be knocked down and weren’t. Finally, this team needs to get healthy. We need Aligbe and Post desperately, and I’m withholding judgment on this team until I see them in the lineup.