Dec 28, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Eastern Michigan Eagles guard Raven Lee (0) drives against Duke Blue Devils guard Tyler Thornton (3) and forward Josh Hairston (15) during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Whether it was Jabari Parker dunking or Andre Dawkins knocking down a jumper from beyond the arc, Duke couldn’t be stopped.
The true freshman and redshirt-senior combined for 43 points on 15-30 shooting to lead the Blue Devils to an 82-59 victory at home against an Eastern Michigan team that hasn’t been half bad this season.
Dawkins was most impressive in his fill-in role for the ill-stricken Rodney Hood, knocking down 6 of his 10 three-pointers and tacking on 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks to go with it. It was the kind of performance that showed just how much more dangerous Duke is when he is on, and it didn’t go unnoticed:
Parker’s performance wasn’t too far behind, however.
Aside from scoring Duke’s first seven points, he never completely took the game over, but he was strong all throughout and turned in a solid 23-point, 8-rebound, 2-block performance. It was the type of performance that would’ve had us on our hands and knees if it had been any other player, but Parker has spoiled the living hell out of us this year, and so I’ll leave it at ‘Jabari being Jabari’.
Most importantly, though, Duke turned in another dominant performance on the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 47-32 in another impressive effort. Amile Jefferson played a big role in the edge, hauling in 14 rebounds in just 21 minutes.
Overall, Duke shot just 40.0% from the field, but they hit 10 three-pointers and 24 of their 32 free throws to make up for it.
Eastern Michigan, meanwhile, struggled from everywhere, shooting 37.5% from the field, 22.2% from beyond the arc, and 56.5% from the free throw line. They were led by junior guard Mike Talley, who scored 20 points in addition to his 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Other big performers for the Blue Devils were Quinn Cook (7 assists, 5 steals) and Rasheed Sulaimon (13 points, 3 assists, 2 steals).
I thought this was a really nice win for the Blue Devils, especially when you consider that Hood was running on fumes. EMU was a top-100 RPI team heading into the game, and I never felt they played exceptionally bad at any point in the game, Duke was just better all-around. For the fourth consecutive game, Duke came away looking like the all-around better team.
It really is magnificent when you watch a game from the beginning of the year and watch this team now. Everyone plays together in a much more cohesive and efficient manner, and things have started to click waaaaaay more. This is most evident in the areas of defense and rebounding, where both the eye test and the numbers will suggest a drastic improvement.
Are the Blue Devils a finished project? Hell no. There is still plenty of room for improvements from everyone, but I feel a lot better about this team now than I did five games ago. Between the re-emergence of Sulaimon, the development of Jefferson, and the stability of Cook, amongst other things, why shouldn’t I?