Just three nights earlier, Duke’s Jabari Parker fumed following the Blue Devils loss at Wake Forest.
He blamed himself for not delivering winning plays and vowed to do so in the future.
Consider that promised delivered.
Parker scored a season-best 30 points as No. 4 Duke pulled away from No. 14 North Carolina in the second half of a 93-81 Blue Devils win Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“North Carolina is filled with all UNC fans,” Parker said. “It’s a small fraternity out here at Duke. We don’t have a lot of people here. I owed them as much as possible. With our little family, it’s very important for us to give back to them.”
The win gives Duke (24-7, 13-5) the No. 3 seed for the ACC Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Greensboro. UNC (23-8, 13-5) will be the No. 4 seed after seeing its 12-game winning streak end.
Parker hit 10 of 17 shots, including 2 of 4 3-pointers, as he notched his best scoring output since a season-best 29 points on Feb. 8 at Boston College. The 6-8 freshman also grabbed 11 rebounds while playing 35 minutes and committing only one turnover.
Parker posted his ACC-best 14th double-double.
“I thought he had his best spirit to score all season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “There were times where he wasn’t going to be denied.”
Rodney Hood added 24 points and Quinn Cook 11 off the bench as Duke extended its home-court winning streak to 33 games, the longest active streak in the nation. Duke has posted back-to-back unbeaten seasons at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Jabari was sensational and so was Rodney,” Krzyzewski said. “This is the first game where they have been sensational together.”
Marcus Paige scored 24, Brice Johnson had 15 and James Michael McAdoo battled foul trouble to score 13 for UNC.
But defense proved to be the Tar Heels undoing a Duke score more points than any team has against UNC this season.
Even though Parker scored 16 points and Duke led by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Blue Devils hit only 2 of 13 3-pointers and took a 40-37 lead at intermission.
But Duke needed less than five minutes of the second half to turn a slim 3-point halftime lead into a comfortable 12-point advantage.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cook and Andre Dawkins gave Duke a 53-41 lead with 15:33 to play.
Duke had an 11-point second-half lead when the rivals met in Chapel Hill last month. But the Tar Heels roared back to win 74-66.
This time, however, Duke showed resolve.
“We’ve been in that position so many times,” Hood said. “All the times we’ve lost this season we’ve been in that position. Enough is enough. In the postseason we’re going to be in the same position again.”
Following a timeout that came when Duke was up 53-41, the Blue Devils showed passion defensively and found their 3-point shooting touch to build on the lead.
After two Parker free throws put Duke up 57-44, a steal led to Cook’s reverse layup in transition.
After a Tar Heels basket, Hood answered with a 3-pointer for a 62-46 Duke lead with 13:56 to play.
UNC scored five points in a row. But Duke responded with seven straight of its own, capped by Amile Jefferson’s steal and slam dunk at 10:52 that gave Duke a 69-51 lead.
When Parker drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner in front of the Cameron Crazies, Duke’s lead grew to 74-55 with 8:29 to play.
UNC was able to whittle away at the lead, closing within eight points once. But Duke hit 12 of 14 free throws in the final two minutes to close out the win.
In the first half, Duke began the game playing well, using its active defense and aggressive offense to open a 17-4 lead.
UNC turned the ball over five times while making only two field goals over the game’s first seven minutes. The Blue Devils drew two offensive fouls while recording three steals.
On Senior Night, the Blue Devils started a senior-heavy lineup with Dawkins, Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston joining Parker and Hood.
But as he had often during ACC play, Krzyzewski used his five-for-five substitution pattern during the early stages of the half.
Four different Duke players scored during that opening flurry as the Blue Devils took a 13-point lead.
But UNC began taking better care of the ball and slowly chipped away at Duke’s lead.
Eight points from Johnson and seven from McAdoo sliced Duke’s lead to 27-23.
|No. 4 DUKE 93, No. 14 NORTH CAROLINA 81|
Percentages: FG .596, FT .737.
3-Point Goals: 5-12, .417 (Paige 3-6, McDonald 2-4, Britt 0-1, Tokoto 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 5 (McAdoo 2, Johnson, Tokoto, Paige).
Turnovers: 13 (Paige 4, Johnson 2, McDonald 2, McAdoo, James, Meeks, Tokoto, Britt).
Steals: 8 (McDonald 2, Paige 2, Johnson 2, Tokoto, McAdoo).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .509, FT .871.
3-Point Goals: 8-23, .348 (Hood 3-7, Parker 2-4, Sulaimon 1-2, Cook 1-4, Dawkins 1-5, Thornton 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Parker, Jefferson).
Turnovers: 13 (Dawkins 3, Cook 3, Hood 2, Sulaimon 2, Parker).
Steals: 9 (Jefferson 3, Dawkins 2, Hood, Parker, Thornton, Cook).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Karl Hess, Mike Eades, Ray Natili.