BOSTON — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks his players might have been looking ahead to this weekend’s game against North Carolina.
And it almost cost them.
“They didn’t listen to me,” he said on Tuesday night after the seventh-ranked Blue Devils rallied from a 10-point, first-half deficit to beat Boston College 63-55.
“It’s stupid not to listen. I’ve warned them two days about it,” said Krzyzewski, who earned his 500th career Atlantic Coast Conference victory. “I don’t look at that (upcoming games) because I’ve been beaten by human nature. We’ve won a lot of games, but I’ve had losses to human nature. That’s all I was telling them: ‘Take a look. … Louisville’s very good, and they were kicking their butt.'”
Vernon Carey Jr. had 17 points and 10 rebounds, making a layup and then two free throws with about six minutes left during a 10-0 run that gave Duke (19-3. 9-2 ACC) the lead for good. Tre Jones scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help the Blue Devils escape with their fourth straight win.
“We didn’t have the right mindset before the game,” Jones said. “We were focused on the game, but we weren’t hungry like we should be.”
Derryck Thornton scored 21 points and Steffon Mitchell had 12 rebounds for Boston College (11-12, 5-7), which lost by 39 points at Duke on Dec. 31 but was coming off a one-point win at North Carolina. But the Eagles went scoreless for more than four minutes down the stretch and missed seven of their last eight shots.
“We lost our poise there,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “You can’t lose poise when you’re playing the No. 7-ranked team in the country. You can’t lose poise for two minutes.”
Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in Division I basketball history, improved to 500-200 in the ACC regular season and tournament.
But this one seemed to be headed in the other direction.
BC scored the first six points of the game and led 12-2 before Duke, which missed 10 straight shots, went on a 9-2 run. It was 16-11 when Cassius Stanley slammed in an alley-oop from Jack White. Then Wendell Moore made a jumper and Carey followed with a layup to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game, 17-16, with just over six minutes left in the first half.
But the cold shooting continued — by both teams. Duke missed all 12 of its 3-point attempts in the first half; BC was 0 for 9.
It wasn’t until Nik Popovic — who had hit nine 3-pointers all season — made one with about 11 minutes left that the teams broke the slump. They had combined to miss their first 26.
Duke finished 1 for 15 from 3-point range and BC was 2 for 18. The made 3-pointer kept alive a long streak. The Blue Devils have made at least one 3 in 1,081 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the nation behind UNLV ‘s 1,092 games.
“It wasn’t a good 3-point shooting night for college basketball tonight,” Krzyzewski said.
BC still led by four with eight minutes left and had a 49-46 lead when Duke scored the next 10 points to put the game away.
Celtics forwards Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams were at the game, as was Celtics boss Danny Ainge. Tatum, who went to Duke for one season, sat behind the Blue Devils’ bench in a Duke sweatshirt.
Orlando’s Amile Jefferson, who also went to Duke, and Mo Bamba were also at the game. The Magic play the Celtics on Wednesday night.
Duke: Has won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the schools. The exception: a BC victory over top-ranked and undefeated Duke at Conte Forum on Dec. 9, 2017.
Boston College: The Eagles were trying for their second win over a ranked team in a month and their first over a top 10 team since beating Duke in 2017-18.
Duke: Visits rival North Carolina on Saturday.
Boston College: Visits Virginia Tech on Saturday.