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College Basketball: Duke 75, Boston College 61

By Bret Strelow

Salisbury Post

DURHAM — Duke’s timing couldn’t be better, and it has nothing to do with clock stoppages.

The 10th-ranked Blue Devils continued their rise through the ACC ranks with a 75-61 home victory against Boston College on Sunday.

Fourth-place Duke (18-3, 5-2) opened league play with a home loss to Virginia Tech and a road setback against Georgia Tech. It has responded with five straight wins and moved within one game of the league lead.

“I feel like this is the way it should be,” Duke freshman Jon Scheyer said. “It shouldn’t be losing two games in a row, losing at home. That’s not what Duke deserves. That’s not what our team deserves.”

Josh McRoberts led Duke with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. DeMarcus Nelson contributed 17 points and eight rebounds, and freshman Lance Thomas had 10 points and a career-high nine boards.

Jared Dudley led the Eagles (14-6, 6-2) with 17 points and eight rebounds, and point guard Tyrese Rice had 13 points.

Boston College held first place outright heading into Sunday but dropped to third behind Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

The Eagles have lost two of three games since head coach Al Skinner dismissed dominant shot-blocker Sean Williams and reserve Akida McLain from the team. The win — an 85-82 decision against visiting Florida State — came when Sean Marshall hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

“Without (Williams), you don’t have anybody to try to lead the guards to so he can block shots,” Boston College freshman Shamari Spears said. “Now we have to play team defense, communicate more since he’s not back there directing traffic.”

Spears, a former Salisbury High standout, has replaced Williams in BC’s starting lineup and averaged 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in three games.

He attempted a career-high 14 shots against Duke and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes.

“Their big guys played really well,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Spears, for a freshman, for anybody, he’s a load.”

A momentum-swinging stretch of 75 seconds enabled Duke to claim a 40-32 halftime lead, and the Blue Devils maintained at least a five-point advantage for the entire second half.

A second straight basket by Spears pulled the Eagles within 53-47, but Duke forward David McClure hit his fourth 3-pointer of the season. He recorded a steal and made two free throws after drawing a foul on a fastbreak layup attempt.

Another bucket by Spears cut Duke’s lead to 58-52 with 9:34 remaining, but Boston College made only two more field goals.

“One thing you have to do is protect home,” Nelson said, “and that’s something that Duke has done throughout its existence.”

Nelson’s play pushed the Blue Devils to a halftime lead.

His layup gave Duke a 36-32 lead with 1:15 left in the half, and he converted a steal into a breakaway layup 15 seconds later.

Thomas took a charge on Boston College’s next possession, and Nelson made another layup with four seconds remaining.

“The last couple minutes of the first half was the critical time in the ballgame,” Krzyzewski said. “Every once in a while a player plays above. DeMarcus, for those few minutes, he was the best player on the court. He just shot us into an eight-point lead with his verve.”

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NOTES: McClure, who missed all of last season with a left knee injury, hurt the same knee while going for a rebound in the second half. He didn’t return. “The last five games, nobody has been more important than McClure,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t think it’s unbelievably serious, but it was serious enough that he couldn’t play.” … Duke outrebounded Boston College 41-30. The Blue Devils have finished with the edge in 18 games, including six of seven ACC contests. … Marshall shot 2-for-11 and totalled seven points and four turnovers for the Eagles, who shot 30.3 percent in the second half and 34.5 percent for the game.

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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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