The No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers had only lost two games before they hosted the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils on Monday, but the collective strength of schedule in the Panthers' 18 wins was comparable to, well, something that is not very strong. According to Chris Dobbertean's latest bracketology projections at Blogging the Bracket, Pitt only had one win over an NCAA Tournament team before Monday (and that was against Stanford on Nov. 26).
The Panthers had a chance to get a quality win against Duke, and Panthers guard Lamar Patterson made two free throws to bring Pitt within one point at 52-51 with 9:41 to play. But Duke responded with 12 unanswered points, never letting the Panthers back within single figures in an 80-65 win.
Jabari Parker finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, completing his first 20-10 game in ACC play and his first since a 23-10 performance against the UCLA Bruins on Dec. 19. Parker has recovered lately from a midseason lull — the term lull is entirely relative to Parker — in which he went five straight games in January without a double-double. But Monday was his third double-double in a row, and he also did typical Parkerian things like this:
Andre Dawkins was the star of Duke's decisive second-half stretch. He scored eight points of Duke's 12-0 run over four minutes, kicking it off with a tip-in off his own miss and later adding two threes. Dawkins finished with 20 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Patterson finished with 14 points on 4-of-14 for Pitt, which shot 41.2 percent. The Blue Devils have now won five games in a row after starting ACC play with a 1-2 record.