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Friday, November 29, 2013
Arizona's ball-sharing helps down Duke

By ESPN Stats & Information

Sixth-ranked Duke and fourth-ranked Arizona entered Friday night’s game with excellent résumés in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Duke had won 14 straight games in the event, having last lost in November 1996. Arizona, on the other hand, had a 21-2 record all time in the event.

Despite trailing at halftime, Arizona picked up the win, outscoring Duke 39-30 in the second half for a six-point victory by getting a balanced scoring effort, with all five starters scoring between 10 and 15 points. It was Arizona’s fourth NIT Season Tip-Off title, tying the Blue Devils for the most all time.

The key for Arizona was sharing the ball. The Wildcats made 23 field goals in the game, picking up assists on 18 of them (78 percent of field goals). Duke had 11 assists on 25 field goals (44 percent).

It was also a matchup between two of the freshman phenoms in Division I this season, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Duke’s Jabari Parker.

Parker won the scoring battle, putting up 19 points to 10 for Gordon, but it was the worst game of Parker’s brief collegiate career, as he finished 7-21 from the field, including a 2-12 mark from outside the paint and 0-5 from 3-point range.

Parker’s 33 percent shooting was well below the 60 percent he shot in his first seven career games, when he also shot over 60 percent from beyond the arc. Parker’s rebounding also took a hit, as he finished Friday’s game with three boards after coming in averaging 8.7 per game.

But Parker wasn't the only Blue Devil struggling on the boards. According to STATS LLC, three Arizona players (Kaleb Tarczewski, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell) all rebounded at least 70 percent of their rebound chances. No Duke player hit that mark for the game. (A rebound chance is when a player is within 3.5 feet of the ball at the time of a rebound.)

Although Aaron Gordon is the headline player for Arizona, McConnell finished with 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists and set the pace for the Wildcats.

During live ball action, his average speed on the offensive end was 4.9 MPH. No other player who saw at least five minutes of action had an average speed higher than 4.5 MPH. McConnell finished the game having run 2.7 miles, more than a half-mile more than any of his teammates, also according to STATS LLC.