In a game that was very important to both Pitt and Duke, the Blue Devils were the ones who came away with the impressive 80-65 road victory thanks to big nights from Jabari Parker and Andre Dawkins, showing it’s way too soon to count them out.
The #17 ranked Blue Devils have now won five straight ACC games, which means it’s suddenly a lot easier to forget the rough start they had to conference play with losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. For Pitt, new to the ACC life, this was something of a test game, to try and see if they belong in the top of the conference after losing to Syracuse in their only ranked opponents game this season. They seemed overwhelmed by a lot of things meeting the second ranked team.
This was a growing up test for Jabari Parker, the Freshman who has had his ups and downs but overall, he’s played quite well in big games, adding 21 points in the win over Pitt, making it 12 games of over 20 points for him; that’s tied for the Freshman record at Duke, and that’s the sixth-most 20-point games by a Freshman in ACC history.
Parker wasn’t very efficient: 7-of-19 from the field and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc, adding 11 rebounds, but there were others to make up for his misses, especially Andre Dawkins with his 20 points off the bench.
Interesting thing to know about Dawkins: Duke are 10-0 this season when he reaches double figures, 7-4 when he doesn’t. In his career, Duke is now 39-and-2 when he scores in double figures, a .951 win percentage, compared to a .795 win percentage when he scores less than 10. They are 8-0 in Dawkins’ career (he’s a senior) when he scores more than 20 points.
We knew he could shoot. He hit a couple tough ones and that gets you going. Unfortunately we left him open, that wasn’t smart. Our breakdowns were often, early and continued throughout the second half.
The difference between Parker getting his points and Dawkins lighting it up is about how well Duke actually played. Parker can be limited, but it’s hard to completely stop him. If he ends up with 20 points, it might mean Duke simply didn’t move the ball and went every time to their default option; the easy way. When Dawkins gets open shots, it means the ball moved well (Duke had 19 assists), as he shot 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, and the team hit a total of 13 three pointers.
This is one of our youngest teams so they’ve had to learn under fire and tonight we played very well and we played with a lot of poise. Pitt is really good. We play again, we may not beat them, but tonight we did because we had that poise.
This season began with plenty of expectations for the Blue Devils due to their Blue Chip Parker, but they lost most of their big games leading up to conference play. Pitt are the first ranked ACC team they’ve faced this season, with only two games (both against Syracuse) remaining on the calendar. Knowing that this team is more than what we saw from them against Clemson and the Fighting Irish, which also means there’s more than just Parker to offer, gives a sense of confidence that this season might have some great things waiting just around the corner.