Facing one of the smallest and most injury-plagued teams in the ACC, it seems as if Duke has had a plan: get inside early and often.

Behind a balanced effort, the No. 4 Blue Devils are in control at the break, holding a 42-34 advantage against the visiting Fighting Irish, led by 14 points from Gary Trent Jr. After Notre Dame took its lone lead just two minutes into the contest, the hosts erupted for a 15-4 spurt, capped by eight unanswered points in just 2:44 to force an early timeout from Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey.

But even with Cameron Indoor Stadium rocking, Notre Dame did not fade. With a brief switch to a 2-3 zone to counter Duke's size, the Fighting Irish strung together a few stops and hit three straight field goals along with a trio of free throws to cut the Blue Devil lead to as little as three.

Still, the Duke offense stayed hot, allowing the Blue Devils to remain ahead. Trent knocked down two of his four first-half triples in just about 90 seconds to stretch out Duke's cushion.

From there, Brey's squad has done its best to hang around, but Notre Dame—without its top two players in potential preseason national player of the year Bonzie Colson and point guard Matt Farrell—has looked overmatched at times. Although the Fighting Irish got back as close as four points, Trent's hot night combined with a stretch that saw Notre Dame go without a field goal for more than four minutes has put the visitors behind.

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • It took more than six minutes of game action for Mike Krzyzewski to finally call on his bench, but it was Alex O'Connell and Marques Bolden to check into the game first, with Bolden making his first appearance in almost a month.
  • Jack White scored the only bench points of the half, registering a pair on a putback dunk during his five minutes of action.
  • Thanks to their size advantage, the Blue Devils have gotten a heavy portion of their points either in the paint or at the charity stripe—24, to be exact.
  • After shooting just 5-of-11 at the line Saturday vs. Virginia, Duke has made the most of its free-throw chances so far, shooting 6-of-9 as a team.
  • The Blue Devils are struggling with foul trouble, however, as Trevon Duval and Wendell Carter Jr. both have picked up a pair already.