Duke Officially Back on Track After Convincing Win Over Pittsburgh

By Brian Skinnell

The Duke Blue Devils rolled into the Peterson Events Center on Monday night looking to extend their recent win streak to five games. After a convincing 80-65 win over Pittsburgh, the Blue Devils are back on track and should be feared as we head toward March.

Entering the second half, Duke found themselves leading the Panthers by two, 34-32. Jabari Parker had 14 first-half points to lead the Blue Devils. Coming out of the break, Duke slowly began to take control and Andre Dawkins had four second-half three pointers. With just under 10 minutes remaining, Duke jumped out to a 10-point lead and didn’t look back.

Four players, Rodney Hood (13 points), Amile Jefferson (14 points, 10 rebounds), Dawkins (20 points) and Parker (21 points, 11 rebounds) scored in double figures. Collectively, Duke shot 48 percent from the field including 13 three-pointers. They out-rebounded Pitt with 36 boards and turned in 19 assists.

The Blue Devils’ 15-point win over the Panthers was by far their best looking victory of the season. They shared the basketball well and we saw just how dangerous they can be when the shots begin to fall. Dawkins was stroking threes with ease and Jefferson contributed solid minutes in the paint.

We saw just how complete a team the Blue Devils really are. Marshall Plumlee turned in solid minutes with four rebounds. Quinn Cook added nine points of his own off the bench and we’ve already talked about Dawkins’ impressive performance off the bench. While Pittsburgh held close for much of the game, the sheer talent of the Blue Devils was overwhelming.

When Parker is on like he was on Monday, it makes the Blue Devils exponentially better. Teams have to then figure out how to stop Parker, but then that leaves other players like Dawkins or Hood open. Defenses may be able to take away one scoring threat, but then another will soon emerge for Duke.

Going forward, Duke has a fairly easy schedule, although it’s hard to call any ACC schedule easy. They have two games remaining against Syracuse, including this Saturday on the road, but they don’t have any other ranked opponents on the slate. They may have gotten off to a rocky start in ACC play, but they’ve gotten things back together.

As we have just a month and some change left until March Madness, teams should have all the kinks worked out by now. They should be playing their best basketball as they make the push for the tourney. For Mike Krzyzewski and his bunch, they seem to be doing just that.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.

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