DURHAM, N.C. – Five Duke players scored in double figures led by sensational freshman Jabari Parker’s 21 points as the fourth-ranked Blue Devils downed UNC Asheville 91-55 in the first round of the Preseason NIT Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Asheville (1-3) was led by a career-high 16 points from Sam Hughes. He also had four steals. Freshman David Robertson added a career-best 12 points.
The Bulldogs will play the loser of Monday’s night late game between East Carolina and Norfolk State at 8:30 p.m. Monday’s game will be carried on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 8 p.m.
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Duke, Coach K, his staff and his players. They’ve got a tremendous ball club. They’re very, very talented, skilled, they play well together and they played well. As I told our team in the locker room after the game, to give yourself a chance against teams like that, you have to have everybody play well, and we just didn’t,” stated first-year coach Nick McDevitt.
“We have to be clicking on all cylinders, and for whatever reason we weren’t tonight,” added McDevitt. “They run you out of your stuff. They run you out of your offense. They just really pressure the basketball, and so we tried some things as far as trying to spread them out and drive them a little bit.
“We felt like there were several possessions where we got the looks we wanted and we just didn’t make them, and that’s in part due to Duke, and their defense and their defensive pressure,” McDevitt also said. “So again, they’re a great team; they’re going to have a great season, but I think there are some good things and some positives that we’ll take from it as well.”
Duke shot the ball very well from the three-point line as the Blue Devils knocked down 10 treys for the game and were 8-of-15 (.533) in the first half. Rodney Hood had 15 of his 18 points in the opening half, while Parker contributed 14 points.
Hughes had 10 points in the opening half for Asheville as Duke led 48-28 at halftime.
The Blue Devils steadily built on the lead in the second half before setting for the win.
Asheville forced Duke into a season-high 16 turnovers. Corey Littlejohn and D.J. Cunningham had two steals each as the Bulldogs had a season-high 10 steals.
Jaleel Roberts was a bright spot in defeat for the Blue & White with a season-high nine points. He grabbed four rebounds and was 3-of-5 from the field.
The Bulldogs played their second game without starting forward Will Weeks. Weeks was averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game but has missed the last two games with a knee injury. He is doubtful for Tuesday’s contest.
UNC Asheville is 1-3 on the season and all the games have been on the road. The Bulldogs have played the then top-ranked team in the country Kentucky (Nov. 8) before playing Duke the fourth-ranked team tonight. Asheville plays its first eight games away from home before its home opener against Bluefield on Dec. 12
Duke out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 42-28 but Asheville matched Duke on the offensive glass with 13 rebounds each.
D.J. Cunningham led Asheville in rebounding for the fourth straight game with six boards. He now has 591 career rebounds. He was credited with one blocked shot giving him 193 for his career.
Sam Hughes was in double figures for the first time this season with 16 points. He has now been in double figures in scoring four times in his career.
The Bulldogs used the starting line-up of Corey Littlejohn and Andrew Rowsey in the backcourt, D.J. Cunningham at center and Sam Hughes and Jaron Lane at forwards for the second straight game.