Jabari Parker pummels BC en route to career night
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass.—Jabari Parker led the Blue Devils Saturday night in more ways than one.
Notching a career-high 29 points and 16 rebounds, Parker's impact on Duke's 89-68 win over Boston College is evident in the box score. But Parker's role in his teammates' performance was just as important in the Blue Devils pulling away from the Eagles in the second half.
"Jabari was a monster today," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the freshman. "He played more like a veteran."
After nursing a single-digit lead over Boston College for most of the first half, the Blue Devils stormed out of the break, going on a 30-9 run in the first 10 minutes of the second period to put what had been a close game out of reach.
Parker’s seemingly endless array of dunks received most of the attention during this decisive stretch, and deservedly so. Parker had 14 of Duke’s 30 points during the run, and his ability to finish through double-teams and fouls frustrated his opponents and silenced the crowd at the Conte Forum.
“He didn’t settle tonight—he made sure he got to the rim,” Boston College head coach Steve Donahue said of Parker. “[Duke] really worked it into him, and that’s a handful.”
What drew less attention was the impact Parker’s impressive inside play had for his teammates on the perimeter. Parker’s efficient play in the post—his career-high 29 points came on a 12-for-17 effort from the field, well above his season average of 47.1 percent—drew Eagle defenders to the block and away from Duke’s guards. Behind Parker’s scoring at the rim was a Blue Devil backcourt that hit its first four 3-point attempts of the second half and finished the night 9-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Junior Quinn Cook led that backcourt with 21 points, his most productive scoring night in more than a month and the first time he’s been in double-digits since facing N.C. State three weeks ago. After making just 23.8 percent of his 3-point attempts in Duke’s previous four games, Cook was on fire from deep Saturday, going 5-for-7 from outside. Cook, along with fellow guards Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton, were largely able to setup on the perimeter and hit open looks from deep rather than needing to create space for their shots.
“I got my good shots from my teammates, getting in the lane and kicking out,” Cook said. “I was just fortunate to hit a couple, and then I just got going.”
Eight of Cook’s points came during Duke’s run to start the second half, when the Blue Devils focused on running their offense through Parker in the post. The forward came out of the break energized, and demanded the ball from his teammates if he felt he had position on the block.
“They made sure they got a post touch almost every time,” Donahue said of the Blue Devils. “Parker hasn’t done much down low this year, to be honest with you, but I think he felt that he had an advantage.”
Parker’s intensity in the second half lifted his teammates’ play as well, as they reacted in kind and took advantage of a defense that became focused on stopping Parker.
“Jabari does a lot for us, especially when he is scoring like that,” Cook said. “When he has that mentality, he’s the best in the country.”
Parker and the rest of the Blue Devil offense allowed Duke to open up its large lead after the break, and a second half focus on stopping the Eagles' two main scoring threats allowed the visiting squad to hold its decisive advantage. Cook and the rest of the Duke backcourt were able to slow down Boston College’s primary scoring threat in Olivier Hanlan, limiting the guard to nine points in the second half after allowing him to put up 16 in the first half. In the post, Parker handled the Eagles’ Ryan Anderson, keeping the forward below his season averages in both scoring and rebounding.
Duke’s second-half effort on defense was vital, but in the end it was overshadowed by Parker’s efficient and prolific scoring.
“Jabari was really difficult to handle,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He was sensational.”