With two disappointing conference losses already on their ledger, and a looming trip to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse on Saturday, Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils entered Monday night's tilt at Pittsburgh badly in need of a win to stay in the ACC title hunt.
And they got just that.
The No 17. Blue Devils (17-4, 6-2 ACC) used a huge second-half to break open a close game and upend the Panthers 80-65 on Monday night at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh.
Stud freshman Jabari Parker led Duke with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He scored 16 of those points in the first half, but was picked up in the second by Andre Dawkins who took over the game for the Blue Devils, sparking a 12-0 run late in the second half to ice the game away.
Dawkins finished with 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting, including an absurd 6 of 7 from behind the arc. He scored nine of Duke's 12 points during the run, all from long-range.
The Panthers (18-3, 6-2 ACC) came into the game looking to prove they belonged in the conversation amongst the best teams in the ACC and the nation. Despite their record, they still don't hold a victory over a top-50 RPI team, having now lost to Cincinnati, Syracuse and Duke.
Pitt's defensive pressure seemed to trouble Duke early in the game. The Blue Devils were tentative offensively, and were forced into taking bad shots. But as the game wore on, Duke found ways to force Pitt's zone to collapse on the inside, leaving their outside shooters open.
Lamar Patterson led the Panthers with 14 points, but he struggled from the field, connecting on just 4 of his 14 shots.
Coach K's bunch will not have long to savor this victory. They'll be right back at it on Feb. 1 when they visit No. 2 Syracuse.
Pitt will return to the floor on Feb. 2 when they host Virginia.