Thanks to one of the most prolific performances of Jabari Parker's freshman year and a resurgent scoring effort from Quinn Cook, the Blue Devils cruised to a 89-68 victory against Boston College.
"We were unbelievably concerned about this game," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I think [Boston College] has been playing well. They should have won at Notre Dame. They had a bad half of shooting against Virginia and then in the second half came back. I thought they played well, until we played outstanding defense in the second half."
Parker asserted his will over the Boston College defense for the entirety of the second half. The freshman had a double-double—his eighth of the season—with more than 15 minutes left in the game and finished with 29 points and 16 boards.
"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 have been a 35 or 36-point night. But he was sensational tonight."
The Blue Devils (19-5, 8-3 in the ACC) jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game behind two 3-pointers from Rodney Hood and one from Tyler Thornton, but Boston College (6-17, 2-8) evened the game at 16 apiece thanks to the hot hand of sophomore guard Oliver Hanlan, who had eight of the Eagles' first 16 points.
The Blue Devils continued to rely on the long ball throughout the first half, knocking down 6 of their 12 attempts before heading into the locker room. Cook—who has struggled in league play, shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc in ACC games—contributed two 3-pointers of his own before picking up his second foul with 2:44 left to play and heading to the bench.
Parker and Hood led the way on the offensive end for Duke in the first half, combining for 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting. While Hood struck from the outside, Parker utilized his size advantage over the smaller Boston College defenders to assert his will in the paint, pairing his 10 points with seven rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end.
The Blue Devils went into the locker room at halftime nursing a 39-35 lead.
"I thought their whole team played well in the first half," Krzyzewski said. "They could have been winning at halftime.... But the way we started off the second half was outstanding."
Parker picked up right where he left off early in the second half, taking a feed inside and turning to the baseline for a two-handed slam. Then after a turnover by the Eagles, the freshman took off on the fast break and converted a three-point play to put Duke up 44-35.
The high-flying theatrics did not stop there.
After extending the lead to 49-38, Parker pulled down a defensive board and pushed the ball ahead to Sulaimon on the wing in transition. Sulaimon raced to the basket and dished the ball back to Parker via a no-look behind-the-back bounce pass for an emphatic dunk to put Duke up by 13. Sulaimon would spend the remainder of the second half facilitating a series of spectacular slams from Parker.
"Our team needed something, that boost," Parker said. "What I really wanted to do was to just be there for them, and then that spark got everybody going."
The Blue Devils knocked down nine of their first 11 shots to open the second half, racing out to a 64-44 lead to effectively seal the game with more than 10 minutes left to play.
Cook continued his hot shooting in the second half as well, knocking down 5 of 7 3-pointers, including a contested fade away with the shot clock winding down to put the Blue Devils up 25 late in the half. The junior's 21 points marked his highest total since his 22-point performance in a loss to Notre Dame Jan. 4.
"Quinn has been struggling shooting, and he had a terrific game," Krzyzewski said. "That was more like he was playing in December and November."
Hanlan—who finished with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists—proved to be the lone bright spot for the Eagles on an otherwise disappointing night in Chestnut Hill. Duke dominated every aspect of the second half and made sure it did not have a repeat of last year's closely contested matchup.