Parker’s career-high 30 help No. 4 Duke roll past No. 14 North Carolina
If this was Jabari Parker’s last home game at Duke, what a farewell it was.
The freshman phenom scored a season-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds in the fourth-ranked Blue Devils’ 93-81 win over No. 14 North Carolina on Saturday night.
In leading Duke in both scoring and rebounding all season, he hasn’t looked like a first-year player very often.
And he doesn’t want to be called one, either.
"No more freshman," he said. "I don’t like getting in that category anymore because my team needs me more than just an 18-year-old. They need somebody with experience through the whole game. … It’s time to grow up."
Rodney Hood added 24 points to help Duke (24-7, 13-5) end the Tar Heels’ 12-game winning streak and clinch the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Duke never trailed, shot 51 percent — 57 percent in the second half — and dominated the ACC’s best team on the glass, outrebounding North Carolina 34-20.
"I think at the end of the day, it just came down to our want-to against their want-to, and it just wasn’t there — the sense of urgency," North Carolina big man James Michael McAdoo said.
Marcus Paige — who led UNC’s second-half comeback two weeks ago — finished this one with 24 points, while Brice Johnson had 15 and McAdoo added 13 for the Tar Heels (23-8, 13-5).
They shot nearly 60 percent but couldn’t overcome their disadvantage on the glass and are locked into the No. 4 seed in the league tournament.
Leslie McDonald added 12 points for North Carolina, which was denied its fourth win over a top-five team, but briefly made things tense in the final minutes when Paige converted a four-point play to make it 81-73 with 2:50 left.
But the Tar Heels’ point guard missed 3s on the next two possessions — with Parker blocking the second of those with 2 minutes left.
Quinn Cook hit two free throws, Amile Jefferson added another and Parker hit two foul shots with 2:03 left to push the lead to 86-73 and effectively end it.
Cook finished with 11 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 10.
And in what might have been his finale at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Parker put on quite a show.
"It’s hard to say what `it’ is," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said, referring to an intangible quality coach Mike Krzyzewski had chided Duke for being without in its loss to UNC.
"But whatever the hell `it’ is, Jabari found it," Williams added.
Parker hit 10 of his 17 shots, cracked his previous high of 29 points set last month at Boston College and showed off all the skills that have him as a likely high NBA draft pick — should he decide to forgo his final three seasons of college eligibility and turn pro.
But he says he has time to make that decision.
"Mostly what I’m focusing on is to do as much as possible with these guys (during) my time here," Parker said.
Parker set the tone early by converting repeatedly around the rim, and he hit two of his four attempts from 3-point range — including one from the corner that gave Duke its largest lead, 74-55, with 8 minutes left.
"I just thought he had his best spirit to score tonight that he’s had all season, because they’re really good, and at times he just wasn’t going to be denied," Krzyzewski said. "And then, boom, boom, boom, you hit those 3s (and) that lead can go to double digits quick."
Indeed, when those 3s are falling, the Blue Devils are tough to beat.
When they’re not, Duke is usually in trouble.
The Blue Devils were only 5 of 22 from long range in their 74-66 loss in Chapel Hill. They made just 6 of 27 from beyond the arc in a 10-point loss at Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
In this one, Duke missed 12 of its first 14 3-pointers and held a tenuous 47-39 lead when pesky senior guard Tyler Thornton picked up his fourth foul with 17:11 left.
Cook came on to replace him and immediately hit a straightaway 3 that started the Blue Devils’ big burst.
"It was good to see the ball go in for the first time," Cook said, adding that Parker "told me he was going to hit me as soon as I came in the game. That’s just the trust we have in each other."
Andre Dawkins followed with another one from the corner to help the Blue Devils open up a 53-41 lead.
Parker then added a jumper and two free throws before Cook hit and up-and-under layup. And Hood then followed that with a 3 with 14 minutes left to give Duke its largest lead to that point, 62-46.
That shot whipped an already amped-up Cameron crowd — which included Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and his quarterback, an apparent Blue Devils fan, Tony Romo cheering enthusiastically from behind the scorers’ table — into an absolute frenzy.
There were plenty of famous faces in the crowd for the latest renewal of college basketball’s fiercest rivalry: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — wearing a Duke sweater — watched from one baseline, while former Oklahoma coaches Barry Switzer and Billy Tubbs sat on the other one.
And Hood and Parker kept them entertained all night.
"Jabari was sensational, and so was Rodney," Krzyzewski said. "This is the first game where the two of them were sensational together. They’ve both been good together, but they were sensational together."