Jabari Parker scored 23 points, Quinn Cook recorded 7 steals, and the Duke Blue Devils (9-2) rode a big second half to an 80-63 victory over the UCLA Bruins (9-2).
The two teams found themselves tied at 37 after a fast-paced and often out of control first half, but Duke’s adjustments to UCLA’s zone defense allowed for a much more efficient offense, and the defensive effort was just good enough to never quite allow the Bruins to get back into the game.
The run started at the 17:14 mark, when Tyler Thornton took a pass under the basket from Parker, made a quick move, squeezed in a layup, and drew a foul all in one fluid motion. Thornton’s free throw would put Duke ahead 45-43, and the Blue Devils would never trail again.
Three-pointers from Parker and Rodney Hood pushed the lead 53-47. It was here where the Bruins would begin falling apart, turning it over and clanking shots left and right while Duke deployed a heavy dose of Parker, Hood, and Amile Jefferson, resulting in a 61-49 lead by the 11:33 mark.
UCLA would make one more big attempt at cutting into the lead, but a Bryce Alford miss on the front end of a one-and-one–which could’ve cut the deficit to six–along with the increased pressure of the Duke defense seemed to deflate the Bruins, who never got any closer.
Rasheed Sulaimon, who made a triumphant return to the starting lineup, drilled a three to push the lead to 74-63 while also sparking what would end up being a 9-0 run to close the game.
In addition to Parker’s 23, Cook and Hood added 14, with Jefferson being the fourth and final double digit scorer with 11. Sulaimon finished with 8 points (3-9 FG), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
David Wear led the Bruins with 16 points, with Kyle Anderson also tacking on 15 points on 7-11 shooting.
On the day, Duke shot 47.0% from the field, including an absurd 11-32 (34.4%) mark from beyond the arc. UCLA finished at 40.0% from the field and just 53.8% (7-13) from the free throw line.
The Blue Devils will be off until December 28th, when they host Eastern Michigan, while UCLA returns to action on Sunday, when they host Weber State.