Jabari Parker, Duke trounce Boston College 89-68

lkeeley@newsobserver.comFebruary 8, 2014 

— . Jabari Parker came out to far more cheers than he normally hears on the road. Perhaps that was thanks to the hopeful Celtics fans that have visions of him in green next year. The postgame media questions certainly had an NBA and Boston-specific flair.

Regardless, Parker put on a show for his admirers, with 29 points and 16 rebounds – each career highes – in 38 minutes as the No. 11 Blue Devils pounded Boston College, 89-68, at Conte Forum.

“Jabari was a monster today,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He played more like a veteran tonight in that he was playing so hard, and usually we have to sub him because you get tired. This is really the first game that I’ve seen him where he’s playing so well he played through tired. It’s something that a really good player has to learn to do. You have to keep performing when you’re tired, and he did. That was good.”

“He scored inside, he scored on the break, and was very efficient,” Krzyzewski later added. “Only one shot was a 3. He scored while moving a lot.”

Boston College coach Steve Donahue pointed to Parker’s 38.5 shooting percentage from the floor in ACC play as evidence that the Duke freshman has often been settling for jump shots – something he did not do often Saturday night. As a result, Parker finished 12-for-17 from the field (70.6 percent), with, as Krzyzewski noted, just the one 3-point attempt. If not for some late free-throw misses (he went 5-for-10 from the line), his point total could have been higher.

“Our team needed a boost,” Parker said. “We were kind of complacent. They had a (four)-point deficit in the first half. What I really wanted to do was be there for them and be that spark that got everybody going.”

Parker got his 26th point on an emphatic dunk with five minutes, 10 seconds remaining. After collecting a rebound, he stuffed the follow with two hands and slapped the backboard, drawing a technical foul. He walked over to the sideline and put his head on Mike Krzyzewski’s shoulder. Krzyzewski responded by giving him a hug.

“I did a little immature thing,” a contrite Parker said. “I apologized to the official. I didn’t want to show anybody up.”

His next two points, establishing a new career-high, came on an ally-oop slam from Rasheed Sulaimon. Earlier in the half, Sulaimon had hit Parker with a behind-the-back pass he finished nicely – not an example of being too fancy, Krzyzewski said, but just a player making the best pass available.

After trailing 39-35 at halftime, the game came to a quick, premature end for Boston College (6-17, 2-8 ACC), as the Eagles scored nine points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. That drought allowed Duke to go on an 18-0 run.

The Eagles were able to hang in through the first half, thanks to abnormally effective 3-point shooting. Boston College came in shooting 34.3 percent from beyond the arc – in the first half, they went 5-for-10, taking advantage of some Duke defensive breakdowns that led to open looks.

Parker was asked about what specific defensive improvements he needed to make (some advance scouting for the NBA teams), and he pointed to his off-ball defense, which makes him vulnerable to back-door cutters (this an issue that, at times, plagues the whole team).

But the Blue Devils (19-5, 8-3) shored up holes in their defense at halftime, not picking the BC shooters up as high on the floor. Duke’s perimeter players were able to contain forward Ryan Anderson (a quiet 12 points), and that allowed the Blue Devils to defend the 3-point line better. Boston College shot 40.7 percent from the field in the second half, including an 4-for-14 mark (28.6 percent) from 3.

Quinn Cook was out of the lineup for the second straight game, but early foul trouble for Sulaimon gave him extended minutes. That allowed Cook to break his seven-game shooting slump, going 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-7 from 3 (71.4 percent) for 21 points.

“That was more like he was playing in December and November,” Krzyzewski said of Cook.

Duke didn’t need Marshall Plumlee’s help to dispose of the Eagles, as the reserve center sat with a strained tendon in his knee. The tweak came two days ago, but Plumlee has already improved, Krzyzewski said, and will be available next week. That should come in handy Wednesday, when the Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill for their first meeting with North Carolina.

But before the Blue Devils left Conte Forum, Parker was asked if he could see himself playing in Boston.

“I don’t know. It’s up to that team if they want me,” he said, before flipping back to the present. “At the end of the day, it’s all about Duke.”

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