All the experts like to compare Jabari Parker to Carmelo Anthony. And Duke's superstar freshman channeled the NBA's reigning scoring champion Thursday night on Anthony's home floor.
Parker did a little bit of everything in No. 8 Duke's 80-63 win over UCLA in front of 15,410 at Madison Square Garden. He scored 23 points, had 10 rebounds and even dished out five assists. The 6-8 forward played a bit like Anthony, scoring from everywhere on the court, with Knicks Tyson Chandler and Tim Hardaway Jr. watching from the fifth row.
"It's a good comparison,'' said Parker, who was 4-for-8 on three-pointers. "You see him, he's a master of fundamentals.''
UCLA coach Steve Alford agreed.
"I know we're in New York City,'' he said, "and there's a lot of Melo in him.''
Parker, the potential No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft, led Duke (9-2) in a dominant second half. The Blue Devils outscored UCLA 43-26 after halftime, including a 9-0 run in the final 2:34.
The spurt that gave Duke some distance was an 11-2 run for a 61-49 lead with 11:33 left. During that stretch, Parker hit a long three-pointer and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk off an assist by Quinn Cook.
"We can get better, but the second half was really good,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
The game was brimming with future NBA talent, from Parker to UCLA's Kyle Anderson and the Wear twins (Travis and David) to Duke swingman Rodney Hood. There were 45 NBA scouts on hand. Not that any of them mattered to Parker.
"I don't ever pay attention, to tell you the truth,'' he said. "I don't even care about the scouts.''
Outside of Parker, no one did more to catch the eyes of the evaluators than Anderson. The New Jersey native was impressive in his metropolitan area homecoming with an all-around game -- 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Hood and Cook each had 14 points for Duke and Amile Jefferson added 11 off the bench. David Wear had 16 points for UCLA (9-2). But make no mistake: This was the Parker show.
"He has a special gift,'' Cook said. "It's a pleasure to have him on my team.''
UCLA was hot from beyond the arc in the first half, which ended 37-37. The Bruins made 6 of 10 three-pointers before shooting only 2-for-12 on threes in the second half.
Duke solidified its position as one of the top teams in the country, having lost only to No. 1 Arizona and No. 18 Kansas. UCLA is still trying to find its way. The Bruins, though very talented, have lost to the only standout teams they've played -- Missouri and Duke -- in Alford's first season.
The Blue Devils already have played three times at the Garden this season, going 2-1. Parker has starred in all of them, kind of like that other super-talented swingman who plays there.
"That,'' Parker said of the Anthony comparison, "is a great compliment.''