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Duke 90 Notre Dame 60

"Nobody wants to play this Duke team." - Myron Medcalf, from a tweet.

Feb 7, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) shoots the ball ahead of Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Pat Connaughton (24) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won 90-60.
Feb 7, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) shoots the ball ahead of Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Pat Connaughton (24) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won 90-60.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Call it a payback game, call it a statement game, call it a clinic. You could run through an entire thesaurus worth of superlatives to describe Duke's 90-60 dismantling of Notre Dame Saturday afternoon.

This would be the same Notre Dame team that edged Duke just last week, the same Notre Dame team that entered the game 21-3, ranked 10th in the nation.

Duke dominated every facet of the game. But it was the defense that stood out, the kind of ferocious man-to-man defense we haven't seen all that often from Duke in recent seasons.

It actually didn't start well for Duke. Notre Dame hit 3-pointers on their first two possessions, sandwiched around a Duke turnover. Duke was down 6-0 before getting their first shot.

It was barely a hiccup. Justise Winslow scored twice inside, Jahlil Okafor threw one down and Duke was off to the races.

Duke answered Notre Dame's 6-0 start with a 14-0 run. Notre Dame turned it over three times, while missing four shots during this span.

"I thought we played great man-to-man defense today, because we talked," Mike Krzyzewski said. "The word we ty to use is 'together.' The only way you can be together is talk. . . . Our defense helped our offense today. I thought we were playing so hard, when you're unselfish like that defensively."

Much of that Duke defensive effort was focused on controlling Jerian Grant, who shredded Duke for 23 points and 12 assists just 10 days ago. Quinn Cook spent much of the game harassing Grant into a miserable game. "We wanted to make him take difficult shots, shut down his passing lanes and not lose track of him" Cook said.

Mission accomplished. Grant didn't score his first point until the final two minutes of the first half and didn't hit his first field-goal until the second half.

And nobody picked up the slack for the Irish. Notre Dame hit 36 percent from the field in the opening stanza, as the Duke lead hit double figures, then 20, then 30.

Notre Dame's Mike Brey surveyed the damage after the game. "I thought their ball pressure harassed us, bothered us and never really let Jerian Grant, or any of us get into any rhythm.

Amazingly, Duke did much of this damage with Okafor on the bench. He picked up two fouls in 16 seconds and sat down with 11:57 left in the half and Duke up 17-9.

Duke adjusted easily, knocking down open 3s and driving to the basket when Notre Dame tried to close on the shooters.

Matt Jones again gave Duke a huge lift off the bench. It took him all of 43 seconds after he entered the game before he buried a 3-pointer, which put Duke up 17-9. His second 3-pointer made it 27-11, his third made it 32-13.

Reminding us more and more of David Henderson, circa 1984, as a super-sub, Jones scored 15 points in the first half, surpassing his career high of 13, set earlier this season against Furman.

Winslow hit a 3-pointer to make it 43-13, prompting the Crazies to start cheering "more than triple," not a cheer I think I've ever heard before, certainly not against a 21-3 team.

The half ended 50-24. Duke hit an astonishing 17 for 21 from the field, 7 of 8 from beyond the arc, while turning it over all of three times. My favorite factoid is that Notre Dame had three defensive rebounds in the first half. Hard to get defensive rebounds if the other team doesn't miss.

Duke, by the way, had three offensive rebounds. For those of you counting at home, there were a couple of missed foul shots in the equation, so the math adds up.

It's pretty tough to maintain peak intensity with a 30-point lead and Duke did wobble for about three minutes of the second half, when Notre Dame cut the lead from 56-28 to 60-42.

Mike Krzyzewski called timeout. Winslow said the message was "don't lose energy, don't lose focus. Win this next four minutes because it can go to 10 or it can go to 30."

It went to 30, in no small measure because Winslow willed it. In the 90 seconds after the lead was cut to 18, Winslow scored seven points, assisted to Cook on a length-of-the-floor pass and grabbed five rebounds, the last leading to an Okafor 3-point play that made it 72-42.

"I just told myself, the team needs me more than ever now, so I've got to step up my all-around game," Winslow summarized.

Okafor picked up his third foul four minutes into the second half but Krzyzewski left him on the floor. "You're not going to win with your best player on the bench," Krzyzewski said. " You've got to learn to do that [play with fouls]."

Okafor never picked up that fourth foul and scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the second half.

Both teams emptied their benches, nobody got hurt and a good time was had to all.

Except for the visitors, of course. Brey has been around the block a few times, so when he says things like "hanging on for dear life," you can believe him

As you can Krzyzewski who used phrases like "lights-out," "spectacular," and "almost perfect."

It comes back to defense. "This is the defense coach envisioned us playing all year," Winslow warned. " Today was the day we executed. All eight guys today were locked in. Today we set the standard, so we have to live up to that standard."


Duke ended up shooting 31-51, just under 61 percent, and 9-15 on 3s. Okafor (20 and 10) and Winslow (19 and 11) had double-doubles. Matt Jones ended with 17 points, Tyus Jones with 12. Ty Jones and Cook combined for 12 assists, without committing a turnover. Duke outrebounded Notre Dame 40-26, while committing nine turnovers.

Cook scored eight points and made a pair of 3-pointers, extending his streak of games with at least one made 3-pointer to 33.

Grayson Allen had his best performance against a top-level team, punctuating a five-point, 16-minute effort with a monster block late in the game. Krzyzewski said Duke will need all eight recruited players contributing in order for a deep run in March, so expect to see more of Duke's fourth freshman.

Steve Vasturia (15) and Demetrius Jackson (11) were the only Irish to score in double figures. Grant scored seven points, shooting 3 for 10 from the field and 1-7 from the line.

This was Notre Dame's first appearance in Cameron since 1994. They are now 0-7 at Duke.