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Notre Dame Basketball

Dominant Duke: Blue Devils throttle Notre Dame

January 31, 2022

It wasn’t Tetris, but in a game of levels Monday night inside sold-out Purcell Pavilion Duke had all the pieces to stack host Notre Dame into a box from which it could not emerge.

The ninth-ranked Blue Devils had more depth, height, length, talent and, by game’s end, more space on the Fighting Irish in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings after their 57-43 win that was nowhere near as close as the final margin.

Notre Dame (14-7, 7-3) set a Mike Brey-era record for futility with a scant 14 first-half points, trailed by as many 22 and saw its unblemished run at home thumped to an end.

“Like I told them, I’m glad we don’t repeat them (on the schedule),” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “The only time we could see them would be Brooklyn (in the ACC Tournament), and if we see them in Brooklyn, we’ve probably advanced.

“You could look at the physical matchups tonight and even, Griffin, Banchero, the bodies on young guys, it was a little bit of a mismatch a lot of times. And how we circumvent that a lot of times? We’ve had Kentucky come through, we’ve had (North) Carolina come through here with bodies. Ain’t nobody’s got … they don’t have bodies like these guys.”

Duke (18-3, 8-2) outrebounded its hosts by 15, 51-36, and posted a 10-point edge on points in the paint, 34-24.

The Blue Devils harassed the Irish into 17-for-61 shooting, including a season-low three 3-pointers.

Former five-star consensus prep All-American Paolo Banchero led the Blue Devils with 21 points and nine boards; meanwhile, Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin, after 20 consecutive games in double figures, was held scoreless.

Notre Dame’s freshman star, Blake Wesley, was limited to six points on three-for-15 shooting.

“It’s team defense,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who praised his former assistant Mike Brey. “We have good athletes, we have good players, but we’re athletic. So Wendell (Moore) did a really good job on Wesley and our bigs too on the ball screen.

“Goodwin, we were lucky I guess. He’s so good. When I looked at the box score, I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ He’s one of the best players in the league. He wasn’t able to get his post move because A.J. (Griffin) was on him. We have a big perimeter, a lengthy perimeter. It’s something they probably haven’t seen. For this one game it helped us.”

This game turned in the final five minutes before the intermission, and Notre Dame never remotely again threatened – or even got the margin inside double digits.

With an 18-14 lead, the Blue Devils unfurled a 9-0 sprint to the intermission that sealed Notre Dame’s spot in the offensive futility record books and cemented a hill too large to climb.

Duke led for almost exactly 37 minutes of game time.

“I think the key part of the game was the end of the first half, where we went on a 9-0 run with our bench out on the court,” Krzyzewski said. “They did a heck of a job, we got that double-digit lead and were able to maintain the defensive intensity throughout.”

Notre Dame has scant time to bemoan this loss; it leaves Tuesday afternoon for the remainder of the week on the road. The Irish are at Miami Wednesday night, with the Hurricanes also atop the ACC standings at 8-2, and then visit N.C. State Saturday.

Paul Atkinson Jr. paced the Irish with 14 points and nine boards. Six other Notre Dame players were limited to three or fewer points.

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