In Jeff Capel's first game as head coach in Mike Krzyzewski's absence, Duke did little to ease the mind of Blue Devil fans worried about Coach K taking a hiatus due to back surgery.
The Blue Devils, who led by as many as 24 points in the second half, looked as if they were on track for yet another Cameron Indoor Stadium blowout. They were causing havoc on defense, knocking down shots from deep, and dictating the pace. Boston College simply couldn't keep pace.
But Duke nearly squandered its huge lead down the stretch by going cold and giving up a big run. Credit Boston College, who climbed back into the game with some hot shooting and cut the lead to six with just 46 seconds remaining. Duke pulled out a 93-82 win over the Eagles, but not without some fingernails being chewed raw in Durham.
Here are three takeaways from Duke's win over Boston College.
1. Duke's defense swung the game.
There's a reason Duke found themselves up 24 points in the second half. The defense was absolutely suffocating. 22 forced turnovers and 13 steals is what Duke finished with. Those are video game numbers.
But 17 of those 22 forced turnovers came in the first half. The Eagles made a valiant run at the game late, but overcoming 29 points surrendered on 22 turnovers was too large a task. Especially in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
That same suffocating defense that helped blow the game open was the same that sealed the game late.
2. The finish was surprisingly close
It's nearly impossible to challenge the Blue Devils in their place if it's close down the stretch. It's even more improbable to roar back from a 24-point deficit and make it an interesting one. But that's exactly what happened.
Duke went on a four-minute stretch late in the second half without scoring a basket, and Boston College obliged with the challenge to make it a close one. The Eagles scored 11 points during that span to cut the lead to single digits.
The Boston College backcourt, which struggled mightily to knock down shots in the first half, flexed its muscles down the stretch with freshman Ky Bowman finishing with 19 points and Jerome Robinson adding 21. The two caused some issues for Duke on defense and converted the transition opportunities to make it a tighter one than many expected.
3. Amile Jefferson's injury could prove devastating
Duke senior big man Amile Jefferson was taken to the locker room and examined with a foot injury in the first half and did not return to the floor.
According to multiple reports, Jefferson injured the same foot that ended his season last year.
Jefferson has been arguably the most important player for the Blue Devils this season. Not only has he been a constant for a roster who has been in flux with injuries, but he's putting up big production, too. Averaging 13.8 points and 10.6 rebounds, he has given Duke a solid presence at the center position with size, scoring, and stuffing.
If Jefferson ends up being out for an extended period, it will likely give freshman Marques Bolden a heightened role in his stead. Losing him, though, for any time would be a huge blow to Duke whose roster was just getting back to full strength.
Duke now improves to 14-2 on the season and 2-1 in ACC play, and faces a big road test on Tuesday night with a trip to Tallahassee to take on No. 12 Florida State who is unbeaten in ACC play.