Rushed Reactions: Duke 80, UCLA 63Posted by Brian Otskey on December 20th, 2013
Brian Otskey filed this report after Duke’s win over UCLA on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Duke is getting better defensively. After a so-so defensive first half, Duke held UCLA to 26 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the second stanza. In particular, Rodney Hood did a terrific job containing Jordan Adams and keeping him out of any kind of rhythm. The Blue Devils also frustrated Zach LaVine into a number of bad shots that fueled Duke’s transition attack. Holding the nation’s third-leading scoring team to 63 points is a feather in Duke’s cap and it appears Mike Krzyzewski’s much-maligned defense is starting to come together. If the Blue Devils can defend at this kind of level, they will be the clear favorites in the ACC.
- Rasheed Sulaimon may have found his role. Sulaimon had a terrific freshman season for Duke in 2012-13 but his second go-around in Durham has been anything but smooth sailing. After being benched against Michigan and playing only five minutes against Gardner-Webb, Sulaimon gained a lot of confidence in 18 minutes of action tonight. While he was only 3-of-7 from the floor, Sulaimon grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. On a team with so many options, he needs to carve out a role for himself without trying to do too much. He did just that tonight and his teammates and coaches noticed. This should serve Sulaimon well going forward and get him out of Coach K’s doghouse.
- UCLA needs to figure it out defensively. UCLA entered the game allowing opponents to score 70.2 points per game but allowed 80 Duke points on 48.4 percent shooting. We knew defending the three-point line was going to be key for the Bruins tonight but they did not do a good job. Duke shot a lukewarm 34.4 percent from beyond the arc but it bombarded UCLA with 32 attempts and 11 makes. This has been a recurring issue for Steve Alford’s team this season and until it figures it out, there will be a ceiling to how far it can go. Offense can take you a long way but against top competition such as Duke and the kind they will face in the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins must do better.
Star of the Game: Jabari Parker, Duke. The stud Blue Devil freshman shined once again under the bright lights. Parker put together a double-double, tallying 23 points and 10 rebounds on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting night. The 6’8” forward also recorded five assists in the win. UCLA had a difficult time matching up with Parker and it showed. He basically got what he wanted on any part of the court whether it was from long range or around the basket.
- “For Rasheed, it’s the best he’s played all year.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Rasheed Sulaimon gaining some confidence.
- “November stats have no bearing on December stats.” – Krzyzewski, on his defensive statistics changing throughout the season.
- “They handled business on the defensive end. We didn’t.” – UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson.
- “They did a good job of containing him and keeping him off the free throw line.” – UCLA head coach Steve Alford on Duke’s approach to defending Jordan Adams.
- “We were trying to go at Jabari and make him work… but we got away from that.” – Alford on guarding Jabari Parker.
Sights and Sounds: The World’s Most Famous Arena was alive for this one. With so many Duke fans and alumni in the New York City area, the crowd was decidedly pro-Duke at about a 90 percent to 10 percent ratio. Tonight’s crowd was announced at 15,410 attendees, a night-and-day difference from the Jimmy V Classic just 48 hours ago. The legendary Bruce Springsteen was spotted in attendance, as well as current New York Knicks players Tyson Chandler and Tim Hardaway Jr.
What’s Next: Duke has a nine-day layoff before hosting Eastern Michigan next Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After that, the Blue Devils will have one final non-conference tune-up before ACC play begins, a match-up against Elon in Greensboro on New Year’s Eve. UCLA will look to get back on the winning track after having suffered two losses in its last three games as it hosts Weber State this Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will also play Alabama in Westwood before opening Pac-12 play on January 5 against crosstown rival USC in what should be a heated affair after the war of words between Steve Alford and new Trojans coach Andy Enfield.