No. 4 Blue Devils break out snowshoes for date with B.C.
Its routine thrown under the snow plow, No. 4 Duke hopes to continue its solid run of basketball anyway.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to play at Boston College Sunday (6 p.m., ESPNU) at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Because of some two feet or more of snow dumped on the Boston area Friday and Saturday by Nor'easter Nemo, the Blue Devils had to postpone their travel north. Instead of leaving on their chartered flight from Raleigh-Durham International Airport Saturday, the team will fly up Sunday morning, rest, play the game and travel back Sunday night.
It’s not Duke’s usual travel pattern, so the hope is the change doesn’t knock the Blue Devils out of their current groove.
Duke (20-2, 7-2 in ACC) has won four consecutive games, including its last two ACC road games. Duke has done so with fast starts. In all four games of the winning streak, the Blue Devils have scored at least 40 points in the first half.
Duke scored 58 points in the first 20 minutes of Thursday night’s 98-85 win over N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That allowed Duke to avenge an earlier 84-76 loss to the Wolfpack, but the Blue Devils weren’t focusing on that as much as playing their best basketball.
“It feels great,” Duke senior center Mason Plumlee said. “More importantly, each opponent’s big for us. Now we’ve got Boston College — Boston College is a big game. We tried not to make more of (Thursday night) just because we had lost to them before. ... We have a good thing going.”
Duke won against N.C. State Thursday night despite being without two of its interior players. Senior forward Ryan Kelly hasn’t played since injuring his right foot on Jan. 8. He remains on crutches, with his foot in a protective boot, and is out indefinitely.
The news for reserve Josh Hairston is much more optimistic. A 6-7 junior reserve forward, Hairston didn’t play against N.C. State as he was recovering from the surgery he needed to heal an infection in his right arm. Hairston’s condition has improved and he will be a game-time decision tonight.
The absence of both of those players meant a deeper reserve, 6-8 redshirt freshman Alex Murphy, received key minutes against N.C. State. Murphy played 12 minutes, recording his first dunk of the season on an impressive drive down the lane.
He only scored four points and had one rebound, but Murphy looked like he belonged.
“He gave us some big minutes,” Duke senior guard Seth Curry said. “We see his athleticism every day in practice, but that just has to carry over to the games. He did a good job attacking the rim (Thursday night) and that (dunk) was a beautiful play.”
In its last two games of the current four-game winning streak, Duke has started off games in a beautiful fashion. At Florida State on Feb. 2 and against N.C. State, the Blue Devils built double-digit leads over the first 10 minutes and rolled to wins.
“We can’t start any better than we have in the past two games,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We would love to have Ryan (Kelly) back, but we have learned to play with this group. I am not saying we are a great team, but we are a good team now with this group.”
Amile Jefferson, a 6-8 freshman forward, continues to fill in for Kelly in the starting lineup. With Hairston unavailable to spell him, Jefferson played 25 effective minutes against N.C. State Another freshman helping Duke win without Kelly is guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who has averaged 13 points per game in the seven Duke has played without Kelly. Sulaimon has made 41.4 percent of his 3-pointers this season.