Behind Jabari Parker’s 30 points, the Duke Blue Devils beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 93-81 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night. With the victory, Duke (24-7, 13-5 ACC) secured the third seed in the ACC tournament, while North Carolina (23-8, 13-5 ACC) fell to the fourth spot. The win also evened the season series at one apiece.
The Blue Devils took advantage of some early North Carolina turnovers to jump out to an early lead and rode strong performances by Parker and Rodney Hood (24 points) into the halftime break. In the second half, it was more of the same, as the Parker-Hood combination continued to dominate. Andre Dawkins and Quinn Cook contributed with some timely buckets in the second half, as well.
For North Carolina, it seemed like it was playing from behind all night.
The Tar Heels were led by Marcus Paige (24 points) and got 15 points from freshman Brice Johnson, but their frontcourt duo of Kennedy Meeks and James Michael McAdoo was incredibly unproductive. While Meeks’ minutes and production were limited due to a stomach virus, McAdoo spent the majority of the night on the bench due to foul trouble.
In the end, Jabari Parker stole the show in what was most likely his last game at Cameron. The win also marked the 33rd straight home win for the Blue Devils.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tweets from the night.
Even before the action started, social media was abuzz in anticipation for this rivalry game.
For UNC fans, they were surely pleased to find that America was on their side.
For Duke fans, excitement was abound with the news that top 2014 commit Jahlil Okafor, as well as the uncommitted Myles Turner, were in the building.
Also present and sporting some Duke gear was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Oh, and Jason Garrett and Tony Romo came, too (also rocking the black and blue)!
As play began, it seemed like Duke's players were feeding off of the energy from the Cameron Crazies, while North Carolina's guys were feeling the enormity of the moment. Pressure + Noise = Turnovers.
Hood was absolutely lighting it up early on. He was so impressive that even former Tar Heel Harrison Barnes, who was live-tweeting the game via Sports Nation, showed him some love.
That Parker guy wasn't having too bad of a first half, either...
At halftime, Duke was up by three. For anyone watching the game, it seemed like the Blue Devils ought to be up by more than that. However, their struggles from beyond the arc kept them from pulling away.
Coming out of the break, the three-pointers started to fall for the Blue Devils.
Then, to make matters worse, North Carolina's McAdoo picked up his fourth foul. James, my friend, I don’t think NBA scouts consider the tendency to pick up silly fouls a “positive” when evaluating prospects.
Then Parker started going to work, making NBA-type plays left and right. The Blue Devils appeared to be pulling away.
At this point in the game, UNC fans were wondering where their star point guard, Marcus Paige, had gone.
Seemingly right on cue, Paige led the Tar Heels on a nice little run to get them back in the game. They don't call him "Second-Half Paige" for nothing!
In the end it was just too much Duke and WAY too much Parker. On a day when fellow freshman phenom, Andrew Wiggins scored 41 points, Parker made quite the statement himself.
Finally, just to remind us of how great this rivalry truly is.
Tweet of the night (unrelated to game action):
This game proved that Duke is one of the best teams in the country, if not the best, when Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker feed off of one another. That's much easier to do at Cameron Indoor than on the road, so we'll see how they fare in the ACC Tournament.
For North Carolina, this game didn't reveal a whole lot. The Tar Heels were without McAdoo for most of the game, so they really had no one to match up with Parker. Would they like to have some more interior depth? Sure, but that's something every team in America would like. At the end of the day, there is no shame in losing to Duke at Cameron.
Both of these teams will be serious contenders in the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament. If Parker and Hood continue to play like they did Saturday night, Duke is going to be an extremely tough matchup the rest of the way. If North Carolina can continue to get brilliant performances out of Marcus Paige, it can beat anybody.
March Madness is coming, folks! Get pumped.