Talking Points: Unlike Romo, Devils clutch in the end
Posted March 9, 2014
1. Let's go ahead and bottom-line Saturday's regular season finale at Cameron Indoor Stadium -- Duke's best two players were better than North Carolina's best two players as Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood combined for 54 points.
Parker was especially brilliant against the Tar Heels. The freshman got the ball in different positions and simply made plays. Parker drove through traffic, hit step-back jumpers and made a couple shots from beyond the arc. In what might have been his last home game at Duke, Parker finished with a career high 30 points on 10-of-17 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams alluded to Mike Krzyzewski's previous comments about searching for "it" after the Blue Devils lost in Chapel Hill on February 20th.
"It's hard to say what 'it' is, but whatever the hell it is, Jabari found it," said Williams.
2. James Michael McAdoo factored into the first half for the Tar Heels with 11 points, but picked up his fourth foul within the opening minute of the second half. McAdoo didn't get back on the court until 11:11 was left in the game, at which point Duke had stretched their lead out to 16 points.
Marcus Paige scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. His late game scoring bonanzas are pretty much a given, but Paige missed back-to-back three point attempts during a critical stretch with under three minutes to go. North Carolina had pulled within 81-73 after successfully pressuring Duke's offensive into turnovers. With Paige unable to convert those into points, the Blue Devils were content to take the air out of the ball with the remaining time.
3. Duke sank six 3-pointers in the second half. A far cry from the disastrous scoring drought from the previous meeting in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils also nullified North Carolina's size advantage, out-rebounding the Tar Heels 34-20 overall.
Throw in the second chance points from their 16 offensive rebounds and 15 points off turnovers, it helped Duke hold off an otherwise hot shooting night from North Carolina.
4. Duke and North Carolina are locked into the #3 and #4 seeds for the ACC Tournament. Where they go from there is anybody's guess.
As Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon go, so go the Blue Devils. Their consistency in handling pressure situations and managing to get the ball to Parker has to be the focal point throughout the post-season.
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels continue to vex observers. Despite a 12-game winning streak leading up Saturday's contest against Duke, North Carolina only beat two NCAA Tournament caliber opponents and both wins were at home. Regardless, they beat the teams in front of them on night's where McAdoo and Paige weren't at their best.
North Carolina is a team with a razor thin margin for error. The Tar Heels could make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament or be out by the opening weekend. Either outcome won't be a shock.
5. Credit to the Cameron Crazies for taking advantage of new material provided by the North Carolina academic scandal. Instead of cheering "go to hell, Carolina, go to hell!" at the players as they walked on to the court, students chanted "go to class, Carolina, go to class!"
There were also some familiar faces in the crowd.
6. Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo were in attendance. Each wore a Duke polo, creating a glitch in the bandwagon matrix.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was also in the house. Unlike Romo, who was demonstratively into the game, Goodell seemed less than impressed.