Last night Jabari Parker did something that had never been done by any other freshman in the history of Duke Basketball, score 30 points against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Jabari’s great game could not have come at a better time for the Blue Devils’. Having just lost a tough game to Wake Forest earlier in the week Duke needed a big game from their star players in Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood and boy did they deliver. In addition to Parker’s 30 points Hood dropped in 24 points of his own including three three-pointers to help end the Tar Heels’ twelve game winning streak.
Not only did Hood and Parker both score a ton of points but they did so very efficiently. They both shot around 60% from the field and went a combined 13-14 from the free throw line.
The reason both players were so efficient last night is quite simple, great shot selection. Hood and Parker both resisted the temptation to shoot contested three-pointers and attacked the basket with reckless abandon leading to layups, dunks and plenty of free throw attempts.
Both Hood and Parker caused troublesome matchup problems for North Carolina because they only have one player on their team who is both tall enough and athletic enough to guard either of them, James Michael McAdoo. Obviously McAdoo can only guard one player at a time meaning either Parker or Hood is going to have a mismatch that they can exploit at any given time against North Carolina. In the first game between these teams in Chapel Hill Hood and Parker were both in foul trouble making it very difficult for Duke to use this competitive advantage.
The Tables were turned last night when it was McAdoo who got himself into foul trouble. As soon as McAdoo picked up his fourth foul very early in the second half Duke took advantage. With both Hood and Parker able to exploit mismatches defensively North Carolina did not stand a chance and Duke all but ran away with the game.
This game may have had very little effect in terms of seeding for the ACC tournament with the winner being the three seed and the loser the four. However, the mental advantage that this win gives Duke should these teams meet again in the tournament makes it all that more important.
It is still very unlikely but with this win Duke still has a chance to be a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. If Duke wins the ACC tournament and knocks off two of the other three ACC powers this season in Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina it should be very difficult for the selection committee to not reward them with a one seed.
In the end it was just a very satisfying game for Duke Basketball fans’ to watch last night. Should Jabari Parker leave for the NBA draft in a few months at least we will always have this memory of his fantastic performance against the dreaded North Carolina Tar Heels and for that Jabari Parker we thank you.