Jabari Parker doesn't want anyone to think he's a ball hog. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski still wants him to keep shooting.DURHAM, N.C. –
Parker had 21 points and 10 rebounds in his fourth straight 20-point game, leading the sixth-ranked Blue Devils past UNC Asheville 91-55 on Monday night in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
His season-high six turnovers - he had a combined four in his first three games - were a product of his repeated attempts to pound the ball inside to his teammates.
And that's something Coach K can appreciate - to a point.
"A really good player isn't concerned about his points, and he's looking for his teammates to maybe have a better night and give them some confidence," Krzyzewski said. "For a freshman to do that is very good. Look, he's exceptional. What he tried to do tonight was OK.
"I'd rather have him shoot it, to be quite frank with you."
Rodney Hood had 15 of his 18 points in the first half for the Blue Devils (3-1), who never trailed and shot 57 percent.
Duke held a 42-28 rebounding advantage, built a 20-point first-half lead and coasted to its 104th straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"We just tried to pressure them and make them play us one-on-one," Hood said.
Sam Hughes scored 16 points for the Bulldogs (1-3). They shot 33 percent and never got closer than 18 points in the second half.
UNC Asheville was beaten soundly by its second top-10 opponent in 11 days after being routed 89-57 by then-No. 1 Kentucky.
"I think if we were able to play Kansas, then I could tell you how all three of those freshmen can play," first-year coach Nick McDevitt quipped.
He certainly saw more than enough of Parker.
Once again, Hood and Parker did most of the heavy lifting for Duke's offense. In all four games, the Blue Devils have been led in scoring by either Hood or Parker.
Hood was coming off a career-high 28-point performance last time out against Florida Atlantic. Also in that game, Parker became the first Duke freshman under Krzyzewski with at least 20 points in each of the first three games of his career.
Parker wasted little time making it four in a row, scoring 14 in the first half while finishing 8 of 13 from the field.
It's been hard for Krzyzewski to find much to quibble about with Parker's game - except, of course, for those turnovers.
The Blue Devils turned it over a season-worst 16 times, many on attempted passes inside, after giving it away a combined 23 times in their previous three games.
"Our strength is on the perimeter, and our strength is Jabari having the ball and doing something with it - for him," Krzyzewski said. "I don't fault him for trying to get his teammates more involved. It's a good problem to have."
Hood turned in several highlight-reel plays during his 6-for-8 night: His personal 7-0 run gave Duke its first 20-point lead.
Hood's jumper after a pretty behind-the-back dribble came two possessions before a posterizing dunk, and a 3-pointer from the corner made it 44-24 with just under 4 minutes before halftime.
"To give yourself a chance against teams like that, you have to have everybody play well," McDevitt said, "and we just didn't."
Perhaps lost in the shuffle, high-energy forward Amile Jefferson did the dirty work that led to the run by Hood that put this one out of reach.
On three consecutive defensive series, Jefferson got a hand in the face of 7-footer Jaleel Roberts during a jumper, grabbed a key rebound and forced the steal from Hughes that set up Hood's 3.
Andre Dawkins had 13 points and Quinn Cook and freshman Semi Ojeleye added 10 apiece to help Duke improve to 23-2 in the preseason NIT.
The Blue Devils have won the tournament four times and two of those titles came during their most recent national championship seasons in 2000-01 and 2009-10.
Just as in the Blue Devils' previous two home games, they built such a big early lead that the drama-free second half afforded plenty of chances to show off. And no sequence was prettier than Parker's reverse dunk of Cook's open-court alley-oop feed with 12 1/2 minutes left.
David Robertson added 12 points for UNC Asheville, which made just its second visit to Cameron and first since 2008. The Bulldogs once again were without forward Will Weeks, who averages 13 points but missed his second straight game with a knee injury.
"We wanted to spread them and drive it," McDevitt said. "We felt like the only way we could get any flow was to spread them."