DUKE, PARKER BEDEVIL BRUINS
Jabari Parker, Duke’s top player and perhaps the nation’s best this season, filled the stat sheet with positive numbers as usual Thursday night.
The rest of his teammates — Rasheed Sulaimon included — made sure all that work led to a Blue Devils win.
Parker’s 23 points and 10 rebounds led No. 8 Duke and the Blue Devils’ solid defense in the second half helped them pull away and beat UCLA 80-63 at Madison Square Garden.
Parker wowed the crowd of 15,410 that packed into the famed midtown Manhattan arena by hitting 4 of 8 3-pointers and 7 of 13 shots overall. He also dished out five assists, playing 37 minutes and committing just two turnovers in a fast-tempo game.
“Jabari loves to play,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s a natural. In different sports there are people who are naturals. Jabari is a natural ... He’s not afraid of the moment. He embraces the moment. He’s been terrific.”
A 6-foot-8 freshman forward, Parker topped the 20-point mark for the ninth time this season and recorded his third double-double. His five assists were a season high.
“I have to play that way,” Parker said. “I have to show up for my team in order for us to do well.”
The Blue Devils (9-2) won their third game in a row, though, because Parker had plenty of help.
Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook each scored 14 points while Amile Jefferson came off the bench to add 11 points and seven rebounds.
Sulaimon, a consistent freshman starter last season whose playing time dwindled to five total minutes over Duke’s last two games, was integral to the Blue Devils attack once again. In 18 minutes, he delivered eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
“First and foremost I’m just tremendously excited that we won the game,” Sulaimon said. “It feels like a big weight is off my shoulders. I just have to thank the coaches and my teammates. They helped me through the ups and downs.”
UCLA (9-2) entered the game averaging 89.1 points per game, led by sophomore guard Jordan Adams’ 21.2 scoring average. Bolstered by making 6 of 10 3-pointers in the first half, the Bruins were nearly on their pace as they were even 37-37 with Duke at halftime.
But UCLA’s up-tempo style of offense could only yield 26 points over the final 20 minutes. The Bruins’ 3-point shooting (2 of 12 after halftime) was drastically different and they only made 10 of 29 shots overall in the second half.
“It was important that we got out after every shot that we missed or made because they wanted to go as fast as possible,” Parker said.
Adams was of particular focus for Duke. He made only 4 of 10 shots, missing all three of his 3-pointers, to score a season-low 10 points.
“He is a good player and one of the main things was we pressured the ball better,” Krzyzewski said. “Not necessarily on him, but on the other guys who make passes to him ... Tyler (Thornton) and Rasheed did great jobs on him, just staying with him.”
The Blue Devils separated from the Bruins with a 12-2 run early in the second half. With the scored tied at 45, Cook drove for a score score and Jefferson’s kick-out pass led to a Hood 3-pointer and a 50-45 Duke lead.
Adams scored for UCLA, but Parker responded with a 3-pointer from the corner. On Duke’s next possession, Cook lost the ball in the lane. But Parker grabbed the loose ball and passed it to Jefferson who scored.
A Cook steal, one of his game-high eight, started a Duke fast break that ended when Sulaimon flipped the ball to Parker in the lane and the freshman’s two-handed dunk gave Duke a 57-47 lead.
The Bruins, struggling to score, never drew closer than eight points the rest of the game.
Making only 6 of 18 3-pointers in the first half didn’t slow Duke’s approach on offense. The Blue Devils shot 14, making five, in the second half to finish at 34 percent for the game. But in a sign of the team’s improved maturity, Duke lose its edge due to poor shooting “Just keep shooting,” Cook said. “We could have easily gotten down because we weren’t hitting shots. I know myself I couldn’t buy one tonight from outside. Andre (Dawkins) couldn’t hit one. But we moved on we didn’t let it affect our defense. I think our team, a month ago when we played Arizona and Kansas (the two teams to beat Duke), when we were missing shots it affected our defense.”
NOTES — Former North Carolina post players David and Travis Wear, who transferred to UCLA after spending their freshman years in Chapel Hill, started and played at least half the game. Of the 6-10, 230-pound brothers, David had the best night with 16 points and four rebounds on 6 of 7 shooting in 26 minutes. Travis Wear had two points and one rebound in 21 minutes, going 1 for 6 from the floor and 0 for 3 from the line. ... Recruiting fans may remember former top Duke low post prep target Tony Parker, who eventually chose UCLA over the Blue Devils. He had two points and six rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench, going 0 for 3 from the floor.
|No. 8 DUKE 80, UCLA 63|
Percentages: FG .400, FT .538.
3-Point Goals: 8-22, .364 (D. Wear 4-4, B. Alford 2-3, Anderson 1-3, LaVine 1-5, Powell 0-1, T. Wear 0-3, Adams 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Adams, T. Wear).
Turnovers: 13 (Anderson 6, Adams 2, B. Alford 2, Powell 2, LaVine).
Steals: 9 (Anderson 5, Adams 2, D. Wear, LaVine).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .484, FT .636.
3-Point Goals: 11-32, .344 (Parker 4-8, Sulaimon 2-4, Hood 2-6, Cook 2-7, Dawkins 1-5, Thornton 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Jefferson 2).
Turnovers: 12 (Cook 4, Sulaimon 2, Parker 2, Hood, Hairston, Dawkins, Plumlee).
Steals: 8 (Cook 8).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Karl Hess, Ed Corbett, Michael Stephens.