Jabari Parker’s immense talents will be enough for Duke to topple many of the opponents on its basketball schedule this season.
For the No. 4 Blue Devils to beat the best teams it will face, though, the 6-8 freshman forward will need his teammates to play consistently well.
Rodney Hood was the first to admit that early Wednesday morning after No. 5 Kansas pulled away late to beat Duke 94-83 in the Champions Classic at the United Center.
“It’s a learning process but I take that upon myself,” Hood said. “I’ve got to be more assertive. I can’t just let the game come to me. I have to take my opportunities and be more aggressive. It’s a learning period for me, too, being at the head of a team.”
Hood, a 6-8 redshirt sophomore transfer from Mississippi State, is one of Duke’s three captains. He matched Parker’s 22 points when Duke beat Davidson 111-77 last Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But while Parker scored 27 points on a scintillating night of basketball against the powerful Jayhawks (2-0), Hood had some lost moments in his 38 minutes of play. Hood scored 11 points but committed five of Duke’s 10 turnovers.
He dished out five assists as he adeptly drove the lane and dished to open teammates for buckets. But he grabbed only three rebounds while failing to record a blocked shot or a steal on defense.
Kansas’ muscular 6-8 sophomore forward Perry Ellis took advantage to score 24 points while sleek freshman Andrew Wiggins had 22 for the Kansas.
“We didn’t play hungry enough defensively,” Hood said. “We didn’t play together enough defensively. As we got tired, we started standing up and not helping each other more. It’s a learning curve. We’ll do better as the season goes on.”
Parker delivered more than his fair share of great plays in his second collegiate game. The Chicago native, playing in his hometown, had 19 points at halftime as he hit 4 of 5 3-pointers over the first 20 minutes. On a night when Duke made only 16 of 28 free throws, a statistic that bothered coach Mike Krzyzewski, Parker starred their, too, by going 5-for-5 from the line.
He also had two steals, one assist and one blocked shot, although he only recorded the one steal in the second half.
Krzyzewski used the words “sensational” and “remarkable” to describe Parker’s play. Kansas coach Bill Self walked away impressed as well.
“We didn’t guard him very well,” Self said. “He was great. He was terrific.”
Sticking with his humble persona, Parker saw room for improvement because Duke didn’t win.
“I have to praise (Kansas) for outplaying us in the second half,” Parker said. “Me, I need to get just a little bit more experience and be hungry to learn. Defense wins championships and I didn’t show that.”
Offensively, sophomore forward Amile Jefferson had a big night, making 7 of 9 shots from the field to score 17 points. He showed an impressive ability to drive to the basket and finish in half-court sets.
But while Jefferson and Parker combined for 16 made field goals, the rest of their teammates had only 14 combined. Sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon had five of them on the way to a 13-point night.
Duke has a busy schedule coming up to show improvement. The Blue Devils play Florida Atlantic on Friday night (7 p.m., ESPN3.com), UNC Asheville on Monday (7 p.m., ESPNU) and either East Carolina or Norfolk State Tuesday (6 p.m., ESPNU).
But the things that Duke needs to show to be its best probably won’t come until Thanksgiving week. If Duke wins Monday and Tuesday, it will advance to the Preseason NIT semifinals where Alabama will likely be the opponent at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27.
The championship on Nov. 29 projects as a matchup with No. 6 Arizona.
“In winning big games you have to have waves of emotion,” Krzyzewski said. “Its how you create those waves. A steal, a loose ball or whatever. It’s learning how to win against another really difficult team. There’s a lot to learn from (the Kansas loss).”
(Tuesday late box)
|No. 5 KANSAS 94, No. 4 DUKE 83|
Percentages: FG .517, FT .571.
3-Point Goals: 7-18, .389 (Parker 4-7, Thornton 1-1, Hood 1-2, Sulaimon 1-3, Jones 0-1, Murphy 0-1, Cook 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Parker).
Turnovers: 10 (Hood 5, Parker 2, Cook, Jefferson, Thornton).
Steals: 5 (Thornton 2, Parker 2, Hairston).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .561, FT .771.
3-Point Goals: 3-8, .375 (Greene 1-1, Ellis 1-1, Selden, Jr. 1-2, Embiid 0-1, Wiggins 0-1, White III 0-1, Mason 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Traylor, Embiid, Wiggins).
Turnovers: 10 (Tharpe 3, Greene 2, Selden, Jr. 2, Embiid, Ellis, Wiggins).
Steals: 7 (Ellis 3, Mason 2, Tharpe, Traylor).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Mike Stuart, Brian Kersey, Ray Natili.