It was the epitome of the Boston College men's basketball season Saturday - they played just well enough to lose, falling 66-63 to Duke on their home floor. As Joe Trapani's three-pointer clanged off the rim as time expired, you could see the relief on the Blue Devils' faces as they headed toward the locker room with a 7-2 record in ACC play.
The Eagles didn't leave without a fight, as they erased a 10-point halftime deficit to make this game closer than it should have been. BC matched Duke's physical intensity, and Corey Raji was a prime example of how hard BC battled. Raji led the Eagles with 15 points and 8 rebounds, 6 of which came on the offensive end. Most of those six offensive boards were the equivalent of rugby scrums, as Duke had BC well covered in the height category.
In the end, Duke's combination of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith were simply too much for BC to handle. Both guards played the entire game, and exploited mismatches from switches as the game wore on. With 1:30 left to play, Trapani ended up guarding Smith and Smith simply crossed over from left to right to blow by him for a key layup to put Duke up 60-54.
As the 8,606 fans who attended this sold-out affair filed out, and the dejected Eagles left the floor, the 2009-10 BC basketball season essentially ended. At least the Eagles went down swinging. On to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Rakim Sanders play on both ends
Rakim Sanders played his best game of the season by far, as he muted Kyle Singler with tenacious defense on one end of the floor, and was aggressive getting to the rim on the other end. Sanders hounded Singler, forcing a few steals that led to easy fast break points.
His highlight of the game was his tremendous block of a Nolan Smith layup, which rejuvenated the crowd, and essentially got BC back in the game with about five minutes left to play. Sanders played with bravado, and let's hope that he can build on this game as the season heads down the stretch.
Coach K's effective timeouts
As BC opened up the second half like a ball of fire, Mike Krzyzewski quickly called timeout a minute and a half into play, as his guys looked sluggish. This took the crowd back out of it, and allowed Duke to settle back into their normal tempo of play.
Then after Sanders' block on Smith, which resulted in an easy layup for Raji on the other end, Coach K called another timeout with his team up 7 around the 5 minute mark.
There are so many times where coaches get on the road, and the other team starts to make a run, where they wait until their lead has almost evaporated until they call timeout. Between these well-placed timeouts and his shortening of his guard rotation, there's no wonder why he's one of the best - if not THE best - coach in all of college basketball.
Biko Paris' circus shot
Biko flew into the lane in the first half and as he glided to the right of the rim, 7-1 Center Brian Zoubek looked as if he had him dead to rights. Biko kept flying by, and appeared to almost throw the ball behind his head, and off the glass for two.
For the most part, he was very decisive when he decided to drive the lane, and while Reggie Jackson got the majority of the playing time, Biko used his minutes effectively.
Tyler Roche's Dream World
Roche went 0-3 from behind the arc, including an air ball. He was a big liability on defense, as he got burned by Singler on one possession, then failed to box out Scheyer in the corner after a 3, and Scheyer got his own rebound.
His perimeter defense on Scheyer also left much to be desired, as Scheyer drilled a 3 while Roche was late to close out. These are the little things that lose ball games.
Duke's Foul Shooting
Duke shot 15-26 from the charity stripe, good enough for 58%. That's 20 percentage points off of their season average, and this allowed BC to stay in the game. Of course, when Duke needed free throws down the stretch, Scheyer and Smith thwaped four of them to keep BC at bay.
BC's 3 Point Shooting
The Eagles went 2-14 from three-point land, and many of those threes were forced as Duke did a great job staying in front of BC's scorers. Trapani, Roche, and Jackson all had some forced shots early in the shot clock, and you simply cannot be this ineffective from downtown and expect to beat a team of Duke's caliber.
The last 3:34 of the first half
BC didn't score for over 3 and half minutes to end the first half. It was a comedy of errors as Trapani had a nice steal, and before he got to half court for a 3-on-2 the other way, he tried to throw the ball to the middle of the floor. Jon Scheyer was standing right there, stole the ball back at mid-court and laid it in for a huge four point swing.
Reggie Jackson got stuffed by Singler on a forced drive to the bucket, Josh Southern missed a wide open 7-footer from the baseline, and Cortney Dunn missed the front end of a 1-and-1 after Mason Plumlee gave BC a gift with a reach in under Duke's basket with 1.5 seconds left.
Coach K summed it up best in his post-game news conference, "I really thought we played well and didn't score, I thought that they [BC] played well, but I thought we played better than the score [indicated]."
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