BC cleans up on glass

Huge rebounding advantage helps Eagles beat Miami

Updated: December 6, 2009, 11:06 PM ET
By Brian MacPherson | Special to ESPNBoston.com

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Offensive rebounds can give any team a leg up. Boston College guard Reggie Jackson did one better for the Eagles against Miami on Sunday: The 6-foot-3-inch guard momentarily perched both his leg and his rear end on the shoulder of Miami's 6-10 center Reggie Johnson on his way to snatching an offensive rebound midway through the first half of the Eagles' 61-60 win at Conte Forum.

The acrobatic rebound earned Jackson a pair of free throws -- and given the elevation from which he'd descended, he could be forgiven for missing the first. The play was reminiscent in some ways of the awkward fall suffered by Ohio State star Evan Turner on Saturday. Turner missed a dunk and fractured two vertebrae in his upper back when he hit the floor, his body almost horizontal when he came down. If Johnson hadn't braced him, Jackson might have met a similar fate.

"If I fell on my back, I fell on my back," Jackson said. "Whatever it took."

[+] EnlargeReggie Jackson
AP Photo/Michael DwyerReggie Jackson's acrobatic rebound over Miami's Reggie Johnson was part of the Eagles' 46-21 advantage on the glass.
Most of the Eagles' rebounds on Sunday weren't quite that dramatic. But a Boston College team stymied offensively for much of the game hung with -- and then ran away from -- the previously unbeaten Hurricanes thanks to a stunning dominance on the boards.

Miami entered play on Sunday with the second-best rebounding margin (plus-10.9) and the second-best defensive rebounding percentage (71.3 percent) in the ACC. But the Eagles finished with more offensive rebounds (23) than the Hurricanes did defensive rebounds (17). Or, for that matter, total rebounds (21). In all, BC held a startling 46-21 advantage on the boards.

Miami forward Dwayne Collins, whose 8.8 rebounds per game ranked him eighth in the ACC entering the game, had 11 rebounds against Minnesota on Wednesday but finished with just one vs. BC.

Both Jackson and 6-foot-6 wing Corey Raji finished with a game-high nine rebounds for BC, and all five of the Eagles' starters had at least five.

"The rebounding, clearly guys went after it," BC coach Al Skinner said. "I give them a lot of credit. They went after it. Our wings are as good of rebounders are there are in this league, and when our big people occupied their big people, it allowed the wings to get down there and get rebounds. That's a tremendous, tremendous advantage for us."

Said Miami coach Frank Haith, "We've never gotten beat on the boards like that."

Boston College needed every one of those rebounds, especially in the first half.

Miami stifled BC with its zone defense early, packing five defenders inside the 3-point arc and giving the Eagles no room to move the ball. Jackson and Joe Trapani both missed early 3-pointers, and Trapani missed an awkward attempt at a fast-break layup. Five minutes into the game, the Eagles had scored four points.

A team with a lethal 3-point shooter could have torn the Hurricanes' zone apart. Boston College, though, has no such 3-point shooter: The Eagles entered play Sunday shooting 33.3 percent from behind the arc, tied for eighth in the ACC. Jackson is a shooting guard, but he's more of a slasher than a shooter. Only Trapani and Tyler Roche have hit more than 40 percent of their 3-pointers this season, and both are forwards who can't afford to spend a lot of time beyond the arc.

When three quick 3-point attempts yielded nothing, the Eagles didn't seem to know what to do.

"The ball just did not move well, did not move crisply," Skinner said. "Our offense was very stagnant in the first half. Every time anybody caught it, they caught it and looked at the basket. We were hesitating."

With every miss, though, came another chance at an offensive rebound. Point guard Biko Paris converted first, turning a missed 3-pointer by Jackson into the Eagles' first two points. Center Josh Southern followed, putting back a miss by Jackson. By the end of the first half, the Eagles had 16 offensive rebounds on 27 missed shots -- and they'd turned their second chances into 12 of their 25 points.

Nothing changed in the second half. After Southern missed a shot down low in the opening seconds, Jackson snagged the rebound and fed him again. Southern went right back up with the ball and drew a foul. When Jackson missed a 3-pointer on BC's next possession, Raji was right there to put the rebound back up and in to push the Eagles' lead into double digits.

Raji finished with seven offensive rebounds -- three more than the Miami team. As soon as he qualifies -- a suspension cost him the first two games of the season -- his 5.0 offensive rebounds per game will lead the ACC by a wide margin.

It was Jackson, though, who snagged the two rebounds that decided the game. Trapani missed a 3-pointer with the score tied at 57 with less than two minutes to go, and Jackson skied through the lane to snatch the rebound and score.

"Next to me I've got one of the best rebounders in the nation," Jackson said, nodding toward Raji. "He drew about three guys and Josh drew some attention and, obviously, they were contesting Joe's shot, so I felt like I should take the opportunity. It felt like slow-mo. I got to just walk under the basket and grab the rebound."

When Miami's Malcolm Grant missed a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to go, Jackson went up and snatched the rebound out of the air, thanks in large part to the work Cortney Dunn, Raji and Trapani were doing against the Hurricanes' front line.

"We knew they were bigger than us, so our goal was just to be strong on the boards and box out and control the rebounds," Raji said. "We did a good job on that. Not only myself, but the rest of my teammates. Reggie demonstrated it when he got that big put-back, and Josh, everybody else that stepped on the floor contributed to that."

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