Duke’s backcourt didn’t take long to heat up again following an invisible performance in Saturday’s loss to Virginia.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils dispatched Notre Dame 88-66 Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, as freshmen Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval and senior Grayson Allen combined for 52 points. But the star of the night may have been little-used sophomore forward Jack White, who came off the bench to key an 18-0 second-half spurt that turned the game into a rout.
“He’s just the ultimate teammate,” Allen said. “He’s that kind of guy that’s just all about the team, all for us, always supporting the guys on the court, so when a guy like that comes in and he gets his own, it’s really fun to see.”
After Notre Dame trimmed Duke's advantage to five points in the first minute of the second half, the Blue Devils (19-3, 7-3 in the ACC) quickly scored eight straight points to take their biggest lead of the night to that point. An alley-oop lob from Trevon Duval to Marvin Bagley III sparked the run, and Duval stole the ball and took it strong to the basket for a 3-point play less than 20 seconds later.
Notre Dame battled back once more to make it a six-point game, but Duval had the answer yet again, swishing a 3-pointer from the wing and then dishing an assist to Wendell Carter Jr. on the next possession. Allen put an exclamation point on the decisive stretch with a steal and a one-handed breakaway dunk, and after the two teams traded baskets for a couple of possessions, White ensured that the momentum did not end there.
After converting a putback dunk in the first half for his first points in more than a month, White grabbed a strong offensive rebound that led to an open triple for Allen with 8:09 left, forcing Notre Dame to use a timeout while Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski bounded out to halfcourt to praise White.
“There’s nothing like that—first of all, playing in front of a crowd like that, let alone chanting my name,” White said. “I was just trying to play hard and give energy and just have fun with my teammates. For Coach to react like that to a play I made, it was special.”
The Australian proceeded to swish a 3-pointer on Duke's next possession and grabbed several more rebounds in the middle of the run that opened the floodgates. He finished with a career-high seven boards in 14 minutes on the floor.
“What a great thing. You don’t get a chance to see that very much,” Krzyzewski said. “You saw it when that Grayson Allen kid was a freshman in the national championship game where somebody you don’t expect not only plays well, but he sparks you, how happy our guys were for him.”
Playing without preseason ACC Player of the Year Bonzie Colson and veteran point guard Matt Farrell due to injury, the Fighting Irish (13-9, 3-6) simply did not have enough firepower to keep up and fell to their sixth straight loss.
Duke took an early double-digit lead with a 15-4 run fueled by triples from Trent and Allen, and more timely shooting kept Notre Dame at arm’s length for the rest of the first half.
But the Fighting Irish did not let the margin get any larger than 10 points in the first 20 minutes, thanks to four 3-pointers from big man John Mooney, as Bagley had trouble stepping out to the perimeter to contest him. The Blue Devils played most of the game in man-to-man defense and shut down all of Notre Dame's players aside from Mooney—who fouled out with more than nine minutes left—and sophomore T.J. Gibbs.
Bagley had one of the quietest halves of his career before the break, missing six of his seven shot attempts before helping Duke pull away early in the second half. The Fighting Irish switched between man-to-man and zone defense to contain him and rarely gave the freshman a clear path to the rim.
“In that first part of the game, we left a lot of points on the floor. Missed dunks—it had to be very frustrating for Marvin. Marvin had one sequence where he had three, where one of them had to go in and none of them did,” Krzyzewski said. “Even as Marvin moves around against the zone, it was just one of those nights for him. But, look, I’ll take him.”
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski went to his bench early after using his starters for all but six minutes against the Cavaliers, and Marques Bolden returned to the floor from a knee injury for the first time since Dec. 30, though White wound up stealing the spotlight and most of the bench minutes.
Duke will take on St. John’s Saturday in New York at Madison Square Garden and has a week and a half before its next ACC game—a trip to Chapel Hill for its first meeting of the year with the rival Tar Heels. The Blue Devils will not return home to Cameron for more than two weeks.
“We felt like we owed Cameron that one after losing Saturday,” Allen said. “We owed it to our fans to come out here and win, and that’s what we did.”