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Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood score 54 in No. 4 Duke’s win over No. 14 UNC

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Jabari Parker finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds and Rodney Hood chipped in with 24 points as No. 4 Duke bounced back from a loss at Wake Forest by beating No. 14 North Carolina 93-81 in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night.

It was a win that the Blue Devils really needed, but not because they had an ACC regular season title on the line or because it would be the difference between a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed.

Duke needed to right their ship. They were coming off of a loss at Wake Forest, which happened less than two weeks after blowing an 11-point lead at North Carolina. Duke needed to make a statement, and they did, jumping out to a 17-4 lead early and led by as much as 18 in the second half. The outcome was never really in doubt, which is saying something considering that North Carolina hadn’t lost a game since January 20th.

Perhaps the most impressive stat from this game is that the season’s final regular season game was the first game in ACC play that both Hood and Parker scored more than 20 points. As one of the nation’s most dangerous scoring duos, it’s wild to think that it took that long for both of them to catch fire in the same game.

RELATED: North Carolina’s rebounding a concern?

On the one hand, it’s a good sign for the Blue Devils. It’s proof that on the nights when those two are clicking, they can do things like snap North Carolina’s 12-game winning streak without much resistance. But should Duke fans be worried about the timing? Is it a red flag that the only time those two both went off in ACC play came in the sport’s most famous rivalry on national television in what is quite possibly the last game that either kid will play in Cameron?

I’m not sure.

What I do know is that Parker is playing as well as he has all season long. He posted double-doubles in his last six games and 10 of his final 13 games.

I also know that it was a mid-game defensive adjustment — switching to a zone — that sparked the game-changing runs in losses at Wake and at UNC, and on Saturday, UNC’s zone was largely ineffective.

If Parker is playing well, and if zones don’t give the Blue Devils fits, they’re pretty tough to beat.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.