NEW YORK—Even with Notre Dame stars Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell back in action after nursing injuries in the regular season, the Blue Devils earned the same result in their second meeting of the year with the Fighting Irish—a comfortable win.

No. 2 seed Duke pulled away in the second half to cruise past 10th-seeded Notre Dame 88-70 in the ACC quarterfinals at the Barclays Center Thursday night. The Blue Devils wore the Fighting Irish down in the paint, as freshman big man Marvin Bagley III delivered another titanic effort with 33 points—23 after the break—and 17 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season and his fourth game with at least 30 points and 15 boards.

“He’s a dynamic force. He can’t be stopped. Nobody can guard him—mismatch nightmare, and I’m glad he’s on our team,” freshman guard Gary Trent Jr. said. “He’s always calm, cool and collected, and as you get a couple buckets and start making that face, the mean mug down the court, you’re in trouble.”

Bagley took control to start the second half, scoring Duke's first six points of the period, and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey needed a timeout when a steal and breakaway dunk by Trevon Duval pushed the Blue Devil lead to double digits. After an effective second half against North Carolina last Saturday, the freshman point guard picked up where he left off with 11 assists Thursday night.

With the Fighting Irish (20-14) a step slow on the glass playing their third game in as many days, they simply had no answer for Bagley, who rebounded two misses on one possession before finally getting a tip to fall and then was left open from the 3-point line to maintain Duke's double-digit cushion.

“We're definitely on a roll right now…. It's a perfect time for us to continue to come together and play at our best,” Bagley said. “Our goal was to come out and play hard the first four minutes of the second half or just to get a run. We started doing that. We started playing. Everybody was hitting shots. Everything was starting to fall.”

Bagley's two made triples contributed to another hot shooting performance from long distance. After the Blue Devils (26-6) finished their game against the Tar Heels with a barrage of 3-pointers, they shot 8-of-17 from beyond the arc Thursday.

The freshman big man was often the Blue Devils' lone scoring threat in the low post, as Wendell Carter Jr. had one of his most disappointing showings of the season with four points and four fouls in only 17 minutes on the floor. 

After the game, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Carter has been nursing a foot injury and has not practiced this week, and he was unclear about Carter's status for the ACC tournament semifinals.

"He played gingerly tonight, and we'll see about tomorrow," Krzyzewski said. “We just have to be really careful. But he did not play at the level because he's not physically at that level.”

Grayson Allen couldn't miss to start the game, drilling five 3-pointers as Duke exploded out of the gates with 32 points in the first 10 minutes. 

“You're playing in a new gym with a new ball, and it's really good for all of our guys to see some shots go in, especially early on,” Allen said. “That really got us going offensively for the rest of the game. When we started pushing the ball early, we were getting very good looks.”

Allen finished with 23 points, but though the Blue Devils seized a 13-point lead midway through the half, they could not deliver an early knockout, scoring only nine points in the last 10 minutes before the break to let Notre Dame back into the game.

For the first time in the last month since Duke went exclusively to a 2-3 zone, its defense looked porous—at least in the early going—giving up openings to Martinas Geben under the basket and struggling to close out on Colson's short floaters. The Fighting Irish closed the first half on a quick 6-1 run and got a dunk from John Mooney with just two seconds left to trim the deficit to just 41-37.

The Blue Devils limited Notre Dame's easy opportunities in the second half, though, with their guards more frequently dropping down toward the free-throw line to clog the paint. The Fighting Irish could not make Duke pay from long distance, as Farrell had a cold shooting night and his team converted just 5-of-23 3-point attempts.

“We needed to be more energetic in our zone to keep the ball out of the middle and start boxing out on shots,” Duval said. “Our energy just needed to be up to cause a lot of turnovers from them.”

The Blue Devils will return to the floor Friday night at approximately 9:30 p.m. to face the winner of Thursday's nightcap between No. 3 seed Miami and No. 6 seed North Carolina in the semifinals.