RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — 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 was sent to its second one-and-done in three years Friday, losing 78-71 to Mercer in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
“I never thought this was going to happen,” said Duke star freshman Jabari Parker. “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.
He said he hasn’t decided anything, though it had long been assumed by outsiders that Duke was a one-year pit stop on his way to the NBA. Rodney Hood, a Mississippi State transfer, also could be headed to the pros after only one season playing for the Blue Devils.
“I thought I’d be playing after today,” Hood said.
So did most everyone else who filled out a bracket.
But some 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 during the decisive 20-5 run.
“They’re a team that’s been together a long time,” Hood said. “They sliced us up. There’s no other way to put it.”
Quinn Cook scored 23 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 20 for Duke, which made a season-high 15 3-pointers and went up 63-58 with 4:52 left after Parker converted a three-point play and Tyler Thornton hit three free throws.
The Blue Devils 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.”