The Breakdown: Duke vs. UCLA

12/20/13 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Dec 19, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) celebrates with Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) after scoring against the UCLA Bruins during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils won 80-63. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY SportsFor the second time in the past few weeks, Duke was in New York City to take on a Pac-12 opponent in Madison Square Garden.  While they lost to Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship, they cruised in the second half to an easy 80-63 victory over UCLA.
Both teams still have a long road ahead, so let’s take a look at the good and the bad from last night’s game, and what may be needed going forward.

  • Jabari Parker took advantage of the big stage at MSG to show why so many people are excited about his future prospects. Whether it was muscling his way to the basket or drilling three-pointers quickly off the catch, Parker just finds ways to score. Once he was positioned at the high post against UCLA’s 2-3 zone, Parker was able to find easy passes to teammates on the perimeter, giving him 5 assists on the night. Parker, who also finished with 10 rebounds, can still take plenty ill-advised shots early in the shot-clock, but there is no denying he is a scorer.
  • Point guard Quinn Cook played an excellent defensive game against a good UCLA backcourt, finishing with 8 steals on the night while playing all 40 minutes. While a bit shaky on the offensive end, especially when trying to get into the zone, Cook did a good job settling down in the 2nd half and not forcing the issue.
  • Rasheed Sulaimon only finished with 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting, but it was a big step for a player who has been out of sorts early on this season. Even when he missed a shot, Sulaimon brushed it off and got right back into the game. If he continues to do this, he should find his minutes become steadier.
  • The Blue Devils have a bit of a breather with Eastern Michigan and Elon next week, but both teams can put up a fight (just ask Georgetown and Kentucky), so Coach K’s squad needs to keep up the intensity on the defensive end.
  • UCLA’s defensive deficiencies were exposed throughout the game, but Duke figured out the zone in the second half and blew the game wide-open. At some point, UCLA will need to become a better man-to-man defensive team if they want to make a deep run this year.
  • Kyle Anderson continues to take on a major role for the Bruins – running the point, leading the team in rebounding and assists, and adding almost 14 points per game. He had another double-double last night with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go with 7 assists. Anderson still needs to work on not forcing plays when they aren’t there, and many of his 6 turnovers could have been avoided.
  • The team’s leading scorer, Jordan Adams, didn’t have a good night, going 4 of 10 from the field for 10 points. Adams had trouble finding good opportunities against Duke’s defense, and when he was open, another player would miss him for their own bad shot.
  • Speaking of bad shots, watch Zach LaVine. After a spectacular dunk to start his scoring and then hitting and open three, LaVine proceeded to mix in missing off-balance NBA-distance threes with trying to force shots around the basket against two or three defenders. There is some potential in LaVine, but he has a long way to go.
  • UCLA has to play an Alabama team on December 28th who is better than their 5-5 record indicates. The Crimson Tide will find ways to expose the lax defense, so Coach Alford better get his guys prepared.
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