BOSTON -- For a change, Duke didn't have to dig itself out of a hole. Its defense took care of that by smothering Boston College.
The Blue Devils (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP), coming off consecutive wins with late rallies, held the Eagles to their lowest point total this season in a 75-50 victory on Sunday night. Seth Curry had 18 points and Austin Rivers scored 16, but defense was the big difference.
Duke changed its approach after falling behind 13-7 as BC made its first five shots. It hit just 10 of 39 the rest of the way.
"We didn't give up 3s," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It's just an unconventional offense for us to defend, and to hold them to the 50 points, we were pleased. And we didn't give up many second shots."
BC managed just two offensive rebounds and was beaten 45-21 off the boards. The Blue Devils were never in danger of falling into a third straight huge deficit.
They had come from 20 points behind in the final 11½ minutes to beat North Carolina State 78-73 on Thursday night. Eight days earlier, they had rallied from 10 points down with 2½ minutes left to beat North Carolina 85-84.
But against BC, Duke went ahead for good on a layup by Rivers midway through the first half, 15-13, led 30-21 at intermission and stretched that to 28 points midway through the second half.
"I was really pleased we got a big working margin, but I'm still worried," Krzyzewski said. "I want us to look good all the time. We got a little sloppy there for a minute and then our kids picked it up again. It's not point differential or anything. Whoever's playing, I want them to be sharp."
Duke (23-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled into a tie for the league lead with North Carolina and Florida State with its fourth straight win after a 78-74 overtime loss to Miami. But Krzyzewski doesn't think his team is playing as well as a Top 5 team should, especially after committing 18 turnovers against BC.
"They're a good group. We're just not some type of juggernaut," he said. "We'll have spurts of really good defense. Our rebounding has gotten better. Until today, we were taking really good care of the ball."
Boston College (8-19, 3-10) was led by Ryan Anderson with 21 points and eight rebounds. The freshman had a season-high 22 in BC's last game, an 81-65 loss at Maryland. Matt Humphrey added 12 points as BC lost for the ninth time in 10 games and is 1-10 against Duke since joining the ACC.
"We obviously came out and played pretty well," Eagles coach Steve Donahue said. "I thought we continued to execute well through the rest of the first half but we hit a dry spell."
Duke's defense was so effective that the Eagles went without a basket for more than 14 minutes after taking the 13-7 lead on a 3-pointer by Anderson with 16:34 left in the first half. They didn't get another field goal until a 3 by Humphrey cut the lead to 25-19 with 2:21 to play before the break.
"It's always frustrating when you execute offensively and you don't get the ball to go in the basket," Anderson said. "We let it get to us."
The Blue Devils kept blanketing the Eagles, who didn't get their first basket of the second half until Humphrey hit another 3 with 16:43 left in the game. That was just BC's fourth field goal in a span of just under 20 minutes.
By that time Duke, which scored the first six points after intermission, led 39-25. It was 46-31 when Duke really took control with a 13-0 run that made it 59-31 with 8:16 remaining. It used its long-distance shooting -- it leads the ACC in 3-pointers made -- to pull away.
Curry started the surge with a four-point play. Ryan Kelly then connected on a straightaway 3 and Andre Dawkins followed with a 3 from the left corner. Curry then finished the run with a three-point play on a driving layup and a free throw.
The Blue Devils got a scare early in the first half when Miles Plumlee left after apparently getting poked in the eye. But he returned a few minutes later and finished the half with a dramatic dunk.
Rivers tried a long 3-pointer that missed, but Plumlee raced toward the basket and stuffed in the rebound with 2 seconds to go.
"I was worried about tonight's game, especially in anticipation of the Florida State game on Thursday night," Krzyzewski said. "At this time of the year a lot of strange things happen in college basketball because nobody's going to give up and if you overlook anybody there's a good chance you're going to get beat. And we didn't overlook Boston College and came away with a really good win."