Parker stars as Duke overpowers BC
February, 8, 2014
By Jack McCluskey | ESPNBoston.com
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The numbers hinted at a rout.
Boston College was 2-16 all-time against Duke, losing seven straight matchups and nine of the past 10 against the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski's team came into Saturday night's game against the Eagles ranked No. 11 in both polls, averaging 81.9 points per game (18th nationally, first in the ACC) and boasting potential No. 1 pick Jabari Parker.
But in the first 20 minutes Saturday night, the Eagles seemed determined to prove that sometimes numbers do lie.
Despite being outscored 11-2 on second-chance points, 10-1 on bench points and 6-0 on points off turnovers, Olivier Hanlan led all scorers with 14 points (on 4-for-8 shooting from the floor and 5-for-6 shooting on free throws) and BC shot 50 percent on 3s to trail by only four at the half.
"I thought their whole team played well in the first half," Krzyzewski said. "They could've been winning at the halftime."
But after the break, it was all Duke.
Anthony Nesmith/CSMWith 29 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks, Jabari Parker produced a stat line unmatched by any ACC player since Tim Duncan in 1997.
"The way we started the second half was outstanding," Coach K said. "We got those runs and Jabari was really difficult to handle."
Parker brought a capacity crowd with him to Conte Forum on Saturday night -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was courtside, one of 21 NBA folks to request credentials for the game -- and he didn't disappoint.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Chicago native demonstrated slick post skills, a serviceable jumper and a nose for the ball on the glass. He nearly had a double-double at the half, with 10 points and seven rebounds.
He was even better in the second half, taking eight shots and hitting seven of them as the Blue Devils pulled away for the 89-68 rout the numbers originally suggested.
"I think the thing you don't realize on tape or until you see him in a game is he has an extra pop," BC coach Steve Donahue said of Parker. "It's 6-8, 235, but it's an extra quickness that you don't see even in this league. The extra explosiveness. The thing I think he did well tonight, he didn't settle. He's settled a lot this year, he's only shooting 47 percent because he's settling.
"He didn't settle tonight, he made sure he got to the rim."
Parker opened the second half with a baseline drive for a two-handed dunk, then turned a BC turnover on the next possession into an and-1 when Ryan Anderson tried to foul to prevent the layup and managed only the first part of that.
A few minutes later, Parker teamed up with Rasheed Sulaimon to provide the highlight of the night.
The rugged forward ripped down a defensive rebound, whipped it up ahead to Sulaimon and then chased the play upcourt. Sulaimon made like he was going to drive to the basket, then stopped on a dime and left a bounce pass for Parker, who steamed through the catch and powered home another two-handed flush.
"I feel like we're just not getting stops," Hanlan said of the Eagles' second-half struggles. "We obviously played pretty good defense in the first half ... Whenever a team like Duke gets hot and makes a run, it can get ugly."
After Joe Rahon hit a 3 to make it 53-44 with 13:28 to go, Duke scored the next 18 points to put the game away -- starting, of course, with an and-1 by Parker off a feed from Sulaimon.
"Jabari was a monster today," Krzyzewski said. "He wasn't rewarded sometimes on his aggressiveness on the offensive boards, with the finishes, otherwise it could've been a 35- or 36-point night. He was sensational tonight.
"He played more like a veteran tonight. He was playing so hard and usually we have to sub him, just because you get tired. This was really the first game that I've seen him that he was playing so well, he played through the tired. That's something a really good player has to learn to do, you have to keep performing when you're tired. And he did."
According to ESPN Stats & Information's Jeremy Lundblad, Parker became the first player to have 29 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks in an ACC game since Tim Duncan did it in 1997.
"He's a great player," Anderson said of Parker. "To be so young as a freshman and just be so physically gifted as he is ... a lot of the things that he does is mental, as well. He just reads the game very well. He just made a lot of good plays for them tonight. He was very efficient."
Parker finished 12-for-17 from the floor and set new career highs for points (29) and rebounds (16).
In truth, to beat a team like Duke the Eagles need just about everything to go right.
They need to shoot well -- they shot just 40.7 percent in the second half, to finish at 46.0 percent. They need to rebound well -- they got outrebounded by 10 in the second half, and Duke finished with a 37-23 edge on the boards. And they need to defend well -- Duke shot 69.2 percent in the second half and finished at 56.1 percent for the game.
And they need a star freshman like Parker to have a freshman-like outing, maybe look ahead to the next game -- Duke plays at North Carolina next -- and underestimate the Eagles' talent.
None of that happened Saturday night, and instead Parker put on a show worthy of the billing.
"Whenever he gets it going," Hanlan said, "it can be scary."
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.