Parker pushes No. 8 Duke past UCLA

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Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Jabari Parker, possibly the best college player in the country, leads Duke past UCLA.

Standing on basketball’s greatest stage and with a near capacity crowd watching his every move, Duke’s Jabari Parker looked more than comfortable. It won’t be long now. The 6-8 freshman still has what’s shaping up to be an incredible season to play out. He might even be the national player of the year when it’s all over.

Parker was the best player on the floor Thursday night (45 NBA scouts came out) and helped the eighth-ranked Blue Devils to an 80-63 win over UCLA before 15,410 at the Garden. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Duke (9-2) pulled away midway through the second half and held the Bruins (9-2) off.

Duke got its separation with a 12-2 run that included five points from Parker on a dunk and a three-pointer.

Bruce Springsteen takes in the action.

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Bruce Springsteen takes in the action.

Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook had 14 points apiece and Amile Jefferson added 11 points for the Devils.

David Wear had 16 points to lead the Bruins but their top player was New Jersey product Kyle Anderson who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Jordan Adams added 10 points.

Anderson, the sophomore out of Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony High, was enjoying his homecoming from the very outset and looked like he was on his way to a big game. He had seven points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in the first 20 minutes as the Bruins battled Duke to a 37-37 halftime time.

Bruins forward David Wear, who added 16 points for UCLA, grabs a rebound.

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Bruins forward David Wear, who added 16 points for UCLA, grabs a rebound.

Anderson opted for the Bruins ahead of Seton Hall and, to a lesser degree, St. John’s. At the time it looked like he might spend just one season playing college ball. However former UCLA coach Ben Howland didn’t use Anderson at point guard – where he played in high school – and instead used him as a swing man. He averaged just 9.7 points and so decided to come back to play for new Bruins coach Steve Alford. Alford has him back at point guard and Anderson is thriving.

Parker was clearly one of the very best players in the nation when he arrived for this freshman season at Duke and much of the early season chatter was about whether he or Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins would be anointed the top pick in the next NBA Draft. Wiggins was thought to have the edge but Parker has been the more consistent high performer.

He was at it again against the Bruins. Parker scored inside and out to get 11 of his points before halftime. He had six of the Blue Devils’ first eight points as they shot out to an 18-8 lead.

The Bruins came back behind 6-for-10 three-point shooting in those first 20 minutes. They tied the score at 26 when freshman Zach LaVine finished a break with a dunk and went up 32-36 on three-pointers by LaVine and Bryce Alford.

Daily News – Sports

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