The Three-Pointer: Reggie Jackson pulled from starting lineup in loss to Duke
|01.27.11 at 11:20 pm ET|
Boston College coach Steve Donahue has made it clear since the start of the season that he takes his team’s practices very seriously, and he uses them to determine which players deserve to play — and start — in games.
Apparently, Donahue felt star guard Reggie Jackson was not bringing his best to the practice gym. Thus, in the team’s biggest game of the season, Jackson did not start either half as the Eagles fell to third-ranked Duke, 84-68, Thursday night in Durham, N.C.
“Practice matters,” was Donahue’s response to the media after the game when asked about Jackson’s demotion.
Perhaps this will light a fire under Jackson and the Eagles going forward. It sure didn’t seem to help much Thursday night, as they lost for the third time in four games to fall to 14-7 overall and 4-3 in ACC play.
The game featured the league’s top two scorers and assist men in Nolan Smith (20.1 ppg, 5.6 apg) and Jackson (19.1 and 4.9). Smith came through as advertised, with 28 points and eight assists to cement his spot atop the league in both categories. He hit 10-of-20 field goals and all seven of his free throws. If he continues this trend, he will be the first player in ACC history to lead the league in scoring and assists.
“Nolan is having a great year, and he had a great year last year, and he’s improved even more,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier this week. “He’s got a lot on his plate for us, especially since [Kyrie Irving's] injury, and handling the ball, defending the ball, scoring the ball, leading the team. He’s done all of those things at the highest level. He’s having an All-American type of year.”
Jackson, meanwhile, was missing in action when the game began. And when he got in, he delivered his third straight subpar performance, finishing with a season-low seven points on 3-of-11 shooting (0-for-4 treys). Jackson began the night second in the league in field goal percentage (.526), first in 3-point percentage (.458) and 10th in free throw percentage (.796). But in the last three games he’s hit just 11-of-36 field goals (.305) and 3-of-15 treys (.200). And he’s missed three of his last five free throws.
Duke (19-1, 6-1 ACC) also received a big effort from sophomore Seth Curry, who hit 5-of-7 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 20 points for the league-leading Blue Devils (19-1 overall, 6-1 ACC). Kyle Singler and Ryan Kelly netted 14 apiece.
Corey Raji, in his return to the starting lineup, scored 18 points while Joe Trapani had 14 points and 11 rebounds for BC, which now prepares for a visit from third-place North Carolina on Tuesday night.
BC was within a point at 28-27 with 3:30 left in the first half following a 3-pointer from Biko Paris (11 points). Duke then closed the period on a 13-5 run, capped by a long jumper from Kelly just before the buzzer to make it 41-32. Trapani scored two straight baskets to open the second half, but Duke then went on a 20-5 run. When Smith hit a 3-pointer with 10:57 left, Duke’s lead was 20 at 66-46. The Blue Devils coasted home from there.
Here is the Three-Pointer of things we learned from Thursday night.
RUBIN ROCKY, ELMORE ON UPSWING
Freshman Danny Rubin was one of BC’s surprise contributors in the first half of the season, averaging 7.1 points through the first 16 games (he did not play in one of them) and starting since the third game of the season. In the last five games, he has one basket — a 3-pointer vs. Miami — and has shot 1-for-10. He did not start vs. Duke and played only three minutes.
Certainly, it would be a lot to expect Rubin to continue his solid play against better competition in the ACC. But without Rubin able to provide an outside threat, it puts more pressure on the rest of the team.
Enter Dallas Elmore. The junior stepped up Thursday night. Making his first start of the season, he came through with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He looked comfortable in the highly charged atmosphere that is Cameron Indoor Stadium, scoring BC’s first five points of the night while his teammates started ice cold (0-for-5 with one turnover).
BC NEEDS TO PROTECT THE BALL
The Eagles entered the game leading the league in fewest turnovers at 10.5 per game, and their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5:1 also leads the ACC. You wouldn’t have known that watching them against Duke. They repeatedly made careless passes against the Blue Devils’ aggressive defense, and it led to some easy baskets the other way.
The turnover total was 13 but could have been higher if not for a few fortuitous bounces. Duke, meanwhile, had seven turnovers.
KELLY HAS CAUGHT FIRE
Duke sophomore Ryan Kelly has hit his stride. The 6-foot-11 forward came into the game averaging 13 points and 5.7 rebounds in his previous three outings. He had hit his last 13 shots.
That continued in the first half against BC, as Kelly went 5-for-5, including one 3-pointer and long jumper just before halftime. He finally proved mortal in the second half, missing for the first time in nearly two weeks to end his streak at 18. He finished at 6-of-9.
Donahue said earlier in the week that was an assistant coach on the 2008 USA under-18 team that Kelly played on after his sophomore year of high school and he has fond memories of the player.
“I’m probably a little more surprised that he’s taken this long, but that should be expected when you go to a program like Duke to step in and try to help them,” Donahue said. “But now you can see the level of confidence that he’s playing with, and he’s found his role, and his ability to stretch the defense. He’s just another really good basketball player that’s making shots. And when you go against a kid like that and he’s playing the 4, it just makes your offense so much better, and I think that’s what you’re seeing over the last couple of games.
“You can’t make a mistake. You start worrying about Smith and Singler and then this kid. … He’s as good a basketball player as there is in the league, and now he’s playing with that kind of confidence that, you know, I’m not surprised.”
Krzyzewski called Kelly a “no-maintenance kid” who is easy to coach. And when Kelly bulked up by about 20 pounds in the offseason, Krzyzewski was confident Kelly would be able to offer more of a contribution.
“We knew that Ryan Kelly would be a good player,” Krzyzewski said. “Last year, he’s just, you know, really under weight for the physical play that you have at this level. And it wasn’t for lack of effort or talent. He just wasn’t ready.”