Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Fall To Duke, Drop Third Straight

January 30, 2017

The Notre Dame men’s basketball team is officially in a slump.

The Irish fell to Duke 84-74 at Purcell Pavilion on Monday night, their third straight loss and fourth in their last fifth contests.

Notre Dame (17-6, 6-4 ACC) came into the game ranked 20th while the Blue Devils (17-5, 5-4 ACC) were ranked right behind at 21st.

The Irish were coming off Saturday’s tough 62-60 road loss to Georgia Tech on a buzzer-beating layup. Losses to Virginia and Florida State were sandwiched around a win over Syracuse.

The Blue Devils were coming off a close 85-83 road victory against Wake Forest on Saturday in which sophomore Luke Kennard hit the winning shot.

A late first-half surge gave Duke a 12-point lead at the half, but the Irish busted out of the locker room and slowly worked it into a competitive contest.

"I loved our fight in the second half," said Mike Brey. "It was the first half we didn’t do very well and that was Duke playing well. We just couldn’t overcome the first half. I think (Grayson) Allen and then (Jayson) Tatum made really big plays. They took away any hope." 

Freshman guard T.J. Gibbs opened up the second half on the court and made his presence felt immediately with a nice drive. The Irish opened up the half on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to five after a Bonzie Colson jumper. At the first media timeout of the half, the Blue Devils led 43-34.

V.J. Beachem got the crowd on its feet with a thunderous dunk driving down the lane. But the Blue Devils came back with a few buckets to quiet the crowd back down. The Irish team shooting percentage got up over 40 percent early in the half for the first time since the very beginning of the game.

Despite the Irish shooting improving, the Blue Devils continued to make shots, maintaining a 10-point advantage. It seemed as though every time the Irish made some kind of a run, the Blue Devils would answer right back. The Blue Devils led 63-50 midway through the second half. 

The Irish cut the lead back down to eight after a three-point play by Rex Pflueger with 8:29 to play. An Notre Dame ended up scoring 12 straight during that stretch and within two minutes, Duke’s lead had been trimmed to 63-62. The Blue Devils got into huge foul trouble with Amile Jefferson picking up his fourth.

Grayson Allen stopped the bleeding with a clutch corner three to give Duke a four-point lead. The Irish missed some free throws and an opportunity to get even closer. At the final media timeout of the game with 3:50 to go, the Blue Devils led 70-63.

Notre Dame was never able to get within six the rest of the way.

Allen finished with 21 points and Jayson Tatum had 19 points and 14 rebounds while Matt Jones and Luke Kennard chipped in with 16 points apiece.

"Steve (Vasturia) did an unbelievable job on Kennard," Brey stated. "I think he’s legs on the offensive end showed it. He needs some rest for two days. Steve’s a guy that bounces back. I think tonight the offensive production was down because of how he guarded Kennard."

We didn’t want Kennard to get 30 and we achieved that.

Beachem led the Irish with 20 points while Colson add 17.

Colson opened the scoring with a nice jump hook off a second-chance opportunity. Jefferson answered right back with a drive right at Martinas Geben. Rex Pflueger came into the game early after Geben got beaten to the bucket a few times by the Blue Devils, who jumped out to a 6-2 advantage at the first media timeout.

"We couldn’t get anything in the first half," stated Brey. "We were stalling in the first half." 

Notre Dame and Duke traded hoops for a few minutes, but the Irish remained cold from the field shooting 33 percent. Midway through the first half, the Irish led 14-13 with the shooting slowly improving. Colson hit another jumper to give the Irish their first lead since 2-0. They hit five of seven from the field to regain the lead.

The back-and-forth nature continued, with the Blue Devils shooting a high percentage and the Irish staying close by knocking down free throws. The shooting woes started to trouble the Irish as Duke stretched its lead to seven following a 12-2 run. 

Duke led 30-23 going into the last media timeout with 3:41 left to play in the half. The nightmare shooting continued for the Irish as they went over five minutes without making a field goal. The Irish finished the half making just one of their final 13 from the floor.

The Blue Devils led 37-25 at the half as they shot 53.6 percent while the Irish were held to just 26.9 percent shooting. Allen led the Blue Devils and the game with 10 points and Beachem led the Irish with nine points.

Turning Point: Following a 12-0 Irish run towards the end of the game, Grayson Allen ended the stretch with a big three-pointer to stop the momentum. 

Player of the Game: Jayson Tatum. The talented freshman forward totaled 19 points on eight of fourteen shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. 

Up Next: The Irish travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina on Saturday night. 

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Irish Fall To Duke, Drop Third Straight

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