The No. 8 Duke Blue Devils were on upset alert when they took on one of the most offensively talented teams in the entire country, the UCLA Bruins. Steve Alford’s team had it all tied up at halftime, but the Blue Devils stepped it up on defense to hold on to the victory, 80-63.
The most impressive takeaway from the game was not star freshman Jabari Parker’s 23-point, 10-rebound double-double, but Duke’s defense. Duke held the third-best scoring team and top field goal percentage team in the country to only 63 points and 40 percent from the floor. On top of that, they held the Bruins to just 26 points in the second half — the lowest point total in a half all season for UCLA.
In the long college basketball season, the win over UCLA doesn’t actually mean that much to the Blue Devils. They were expected to win and did so in style. However, defense wins championships, and Duke proved that they are one of the more defensively sound top college basketball teams.
If the offensive firepower of Parker, Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook continues to mesh, Duke will simply be able to overpower top opposition later on in the year. This improved defense, coupled with their already ultra-talented offense, could make Duke the most dangerous team in the country. UCLA is definitely a 2014 NCAA Tournament team, and with Duke likely to be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, the Blue Devils could see the Bruins once again during March Madness.