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Duke Steamrolls Notre Dame 94-60

We’ll be talking about this one for a while as Duke just destroyed the Irish in the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Duke
Feb 15, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Alex O’Connell (15) reacts during the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Obliterated. Mauled. Destroyed. Demolished.

Stunning. Magnificent. Awesome.

I’ll stop there. You get the drift. But Duke’s 94-60 win over Notre Dame Saturday afternoon was the kind of win that sends one searching for a dictionary.

Duke followed up a solid first half with a stunning second half, combining a suffocating defense and a barrage of 3-pointers to go from in control to are-you-kidding me.

Any chance Notre Dame had of pulling off the upset depended on controlling the tempo, limiting turnovers and knocking down 3-pointers. Mike Brey said his team needed at least 10 3-pointers to have a chance.

Duke didn’t give them a chance.

“We had a game plan coming in, that we were going to contest them hard, to get in the passing lanes, to try and play at our pace,” Jordan Goldwire said.

Mike Brey said his team had no answer for Duke’s perimeter defense.

“I think their ball pressure really bothered us. . . . We couldn’t get anything going from our guards. I think it was their ball pressure. They kept a number of bodies, fresh guys and they’re pressuring you like that, it’s tough.”

Notre Dame only led once, at 2-0. But they hung around. It was rubber-band kind of first half, one in which Duke would extend the lead and Notre Dame would shrink it back.

It was tied at 6, Duke led 12-6, Notre Dame cut it to 12-10, Duke surged to 20-12, Notre Dame cut it to 20-19, then 40-26, then 42-32 at intermission.

“In the first half I thought we outplayed them for about 13 minutes and they outplayed us for about seven,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re both playing well. We’d have a spurt, they’d have a spurt, spurt, spurt and then we had a spurt and it was halftime and that was good because they were ready to have another spurt.”

Each team only had four players score in the first half. Vernon Carey had 16 for Duke, followed by Tre Jones with 13, Jordan Goldwire with 7 and Matthew Hurt with 6. Post players John Mooney and Juwan Durham benefited from Duke’s emphasis on controlling the perimeter with 14 and 13 points respectively.

Krzyzewski said he needed more than four scorers.

“Our bench did not help us in the first half. . . .We got nothing from the bench and we said that at halftime and the guys said ‘we got you coach, we’ll be there’ and we made those subs and boom, it just exploded.”

Notre Dame isn’t very deep and they don’t run a lot.

Matthew Hurt said a big part of Duke’s game plan was to exploit that.

“The game plan was to try to defend them with a man press. But the key wasn’t just to force turnovers. We were just trying to wear their legs out, make them work for 30 seconds every possession.”

Krzyzewski elaborated.

“We have more depth, we play at a quicker pace. . . . We have good legs. We’re in really good shape and the way we’ve done the whole season is to play a lot of guys so we can stay fresh. The thing that Vernon did tonight was play through tired. . . . They don’t play at the pace we do. . . . If you run a mile in 6 minutes and we run it in 5:15, let’s run the mile in 5 tonight. But in order to do that, you’ve got to play defense.”

The game was still competitive 1:15 into the second half when Mooney hit a 3 to make it 44-35.

Then it became something Krzyzewski called “magical.” Maybe it was Notre Dame getting tired, maybe it was Zion Williamson making an appearance that brought the crowd to a frenzy.

But Duke forced turnovers, grabbed rebounds, got out and ran and bombed away from outside.

A Hurt 3 gave Duke its biggest lead, at 52-37. An Alex O’Connell 3 made it 59-41. Joey Baker scored eight points in less than two minutes, a 3-pointer making it 72-44, a 16-3 run over just under three minutes, one that Duke extended to 21-5 before Krzyzewski called off the dogs.

Even Javin DeLaurier buried a 3-pointer, his first of the season and second of his career.

“It’s something I’ve worked on in practice. I had a good look and just took it.”

The big run?

“As always, it starts with our defense,” DeLaurier said. “When we get stops and hold them to one shot and get out and run, that’s when we play our best. Guys really had fun today, played beautiful basketball. Runs like that are part of the reason we love playing.”

Goldwire helped hold T.J. Gibbs scoreless. Gibbs came into the game averaging almost 14 points per game.

“I just tried to play hard and defend him as well as possible. He’s one of their best players so trying to take him out of the game is something I focused on.”

And Duke outrebounded Notre Dame 40-30, with Hurt going elbow-to-elbow with Mooney, the ACC’s leading rebounder. Mooney grabbed nine rebounds but so did Hurt.

“I think the last game, with that rebound at the end, kind of sparked me, gave me some confidence to stick my head in there and get some rebounds.”


Krzyzewski pulled Carey with 8:29 left. Carey ended the game with 21 points in 23 minutes in a game that Krzyzewski called “ one of his best games. He played through contact.”

Jones left with 6:43 remaining, his first break of the day. He ended with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal.

“We go the way of our leader,” Krzyzewski said. “Tre was magnificent, not good. The kid is a special, special guy, leading the break defense.”

Hurt and O’Connell added 12 points for a Duke team that had 11 players score, 10 grab a rebound, 10 notch an assist.

Duke hit 10-of-22 from beyond the arc, 7-of-14 after intermission.

The Irish were 5-for-21.

Duke forced 14 turnovers, while committing only nine. O’Connell had a career-high four.

Walk-on Mike Buckmire had two of those points, his first of the season.

“That’s huge,” DeLaurier said, “because he’s a guy who comes in and works as hard as any of us during practice. . . . It’s something our team celebrates.”

Cassius Stanley was poked in the eye during pregame and did not play. No official word on his return but it does not appear to be serious.


Player Of The Game vs. Notre Dame

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Matthew Hurt
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (2 votes)
  • 30%
    Vernon Carey
    (178 votes)
  • 35%
    Tre Jones
    (206 votes)
  • 9%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (57 votes)
  • 1%
    Justin Robinson
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Jack White
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Baker
    (4 votes)
  • 15%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (89 votes)
  • 3%
    Mike Buckmire
    (20 votes)
586 votes total Vote Now