Sulaimon leads No. 6 Duke past BC, 89-68
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Young players don’t often play well at Cameron Indoor Stadium — unless they’re wearing Duke uniforms.
Rasheed Sulaimon scored a season-high 27 points and fellow freshman Amile Jefferson added a personal-best 14 to lead Duke past Boston College 89-68 on Sunday.
Mason Plumlee had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils (24-3, 11-3), who shot nearly 54 percent — 62 percent during the first half — and outscored one of the ACC’s youngest teams 48-17 during the 15½ minute span that put this one out of reach by halftime.
“We’re a team with a lot of scorers,” Plumlee said. “So when you have a team with multiple scorers, you can’t just focus in on one guy.”
Quinn Cook had 12 and Seth Curry finished with 11 for Duke, which had five double-figure scorers for the fifth time.
“We have great shooters. We have great inside presence. We have people who are tough, who can rebound,” Sulaimon said. “When we add that dimension of driving and finishing, it just forces the defense to play honest. Now you have to pick your poison.”
Ryan Anderson scored 23 points to lead the Eagles (12-15, 4-10). They had 16 turnovers, were held to one field goal during a 10-minute stretch that coincided with Duke’s dominating early burst and lost their fourth in six games while dropping to 0-7 at Cameron.
“I didn’t think we handled our first trip to this building very well for most of the guys,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “For the first time this year, we just didn’t play with poise on both sides of the ball.”
Indeed, the Blue Devils faced little resistance in going up 51-27 at the break — their largest halftime lead of the season — and didn’t let BC get closer than 21 in the second half while making up some valuable ground in the chase for the top seed in the ACC tournament.
In winning their eighth in nine games, they moved two games behind No. 2 Miami. The first-place Hurricanes were upset by Wake Forest one day earlier and come to Cameron on Saturday — where Duke has been dominant.
Yet coach Mike Krzyzewski insists the Blue Devils aren’t paying any attention to the conference race because “we’re running our own race.
“It’s been a good one, and we’re going to try to keep doing it,” he said. “We’re not going to compare it to anyone else’s race, including past Duke teams. This is our race, and we’re going to try to be focused on that.”
Sulaimon was 10 of 15 while surpassing his previous best of 25 points set last month against Maryland. Jefferson bested his 13-point performance in last month’s loss at Miami.
“Really, I just had to catch the ball and shoot,” Sulaimon said. “My teammates found me in some open spots, and they put me in some very successful positions.”
And Plumlee, a 56 percent free-throw shooter for his career, was 11 of 15 from the line while becoming the 31st player in ACC history to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
They helped Duke improve to 14-0 at home with only two games decided by single digits. In their previous six ACC home games, the Blue Devils’ average margin of victory was nearly 17 points.
They entered as the ACC’s best 3-point shooting team, and were 7 of 15 from long range against the league’s worst team at defending the arc.
Patrick Heckmann had 15 points and freshman Olivier Hanlan finished with 12 on 5-of-13 shooting for the young Eagles. Their starting lineup consists solely of freshmen and sophomores, and they entered 1-6 in ACC games decided by five or fewer points.
One of those was a 62-61 loss to Duke two weeks earlier in Boston, where BC let a late five-point lead slip away.
The rematch was never in danger of coming down to the wire.
Duke controlled this one almost from the tip, putting three players — all underclassmen — in double figures in the opening 20 minutes.
Sulaimon scored 15 while Cook and Jefferson each had 10, with Jefferson converting three-point plays on consecutive trips downcourt late in the half. Sulaimon then tacked on a three-point play with 47.7 seconds left to give Duke its largest lead of the half at 51-22.
“I like the way two of my freshmen really finished today,” Krzyzewski said. “Rasheed had a sensational game. One of the things he did today was, he played through contact and finished. ... That’s a sign of growth. He made a lot of outstanding plays today, and Amile did the same thing.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles finished the half with more turnovers (13) than field goals (10).