It’s one-and-done for Duke, Jabari Parker, who fall to Mercer
By JOEDY McCREARY AP Sports Writer March 21, 2014 2:06PM
Duke forward Jabari Parker (1) works against Mercer forward Jakob Gollon (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball second-round game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Updated: March 21, 2014 11:46PM
RALEIGH, N.C. — There once again wasn’t much ‘‘D’’ in Duke — and now there aren’t any Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team suffered its second one-and-done in three years Friday, losing 78-71 to 14th-seeded Mercer in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
‘‘I never thought this was going to happen,’’ said Duke star freshman Jabari Parker, formerly of Simeon High School. ‘‘They didn’t look at it on paper. . . . From now on, that can’t happen anymore.’’
It won’t. Duke’s season is over. Maybe Parker’s college career, too.
It had long been assumed by outsiders that Duke was a one-year pit stop on his way to the NBA. But Parker told ESPN.com after the game that his college career is ‘‘incomplete’’ and suggested the loss could motivate him to stick around another season.
Rodney Hood, a Mississippi State transfer, also could be NBA-bound after only one season playing for Duke.
‘‘I thought I’d be playing after today,’’ Hood said.
So did most everyone else who filled out a bracket.
But serious holes on defense allowed the Atlantic Sun champion Bears — who start five seniors and come from the same conference that produced 2013 tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast — to have their way with Duke.
Mercer shot 56 percent — 58 percent in the second half — and scored 11 consecutive points in a decisive 20-5 run.
‘‘They’re a team that’s been together a long time,’’ Hood said. ‘‘They sliced us up.’’
Quinn Cook scored 23 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 20 for Duke, which made a season-high 15 three-pointers and went up 63-58 with 4:52 left after Parker converted a three-point play and Tyler Thornton hit three free throws.
Duke didn’t score again until the final minute.
‘‘I don’t know if we panicked,’’ senior Andre Dawkins said, “but we didn’t do the things we needed to do.’’
Mercer big man Daniel Coursey countered by rattling in a jumper in the lane, and after two empty possessions for Duke, some slick ball rotation by Mercer set up Anthony White Jr.’s open three that tied it at 63 with 2½ minutes left.
Hood picked up his fourth foul on the Bears’ next possession, and Jakob Gollon (20 points) hit two free throws to put Mercer ahead for good.
‘‘We were confident all week,’’ Mercer guard Kevin Canevari said. ‘‘We don’t really look at it like we’re an underdog in this tournament. Obviously, everyone’s a great team — there’s already been so many upsets. But it is a little bit surreal.’’