Matt Jones' only 3-pointer of the night sparked a 21-6 run that gave Duke a 12-point halftime advantage.


Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Notre Dame

After falling to its lowest ranking of the season, No. 21 Duke topped No. 20 Notre Dame 84-74 to extend its road win streak to two. Playing on short rest and tired legs after a late comeback Saturday against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils started strong and held off a late surge by the Fighting Irish to tally Duke's first win against a ranked opponent in nearly two months.

Revisiting the three keys to the game: 

  • Clean the glass: Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson has always given the Blue Devils trouble—a trend that continued on Monday night as the big man put up 17 points and 9 rebounds. Duke, however, consistently crashed the boards on both the offensive and defensive ends. The Blue Devils significantly outrebounded the Irish 38-26, and apart from Colson, the next highest Notre Dame player collected only four boards. This allowed Duke to prevent the ACC’s best 3-point shooting team from getting any easy looks as the Irish ended up connecting just 7 times from beyond the arc—well below their conference-leading 9.5 triples per game.
  • Get out in transition: For most of the season, the Blue Devils have not dominated  teams with their transition offense. And on Monday night, there were multiple instances early in the first half when Duke failed to capitalize on 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast-break opportunities. Junior Grayson Allen and freshman Jayson Tatum were responsible for a couple of miscommunications that resulted in turnovers instead of easy layups. Despite their struggles in the first 20 minutes, the Blue Devils pushed the ball well later in the game with some success before transitioning into their general half-court offense—largely the result of Duke playing most of the game with a lead.
  • Weather the storm: The Blue Devils handed Notre Dame just its second loss of the season at Purcell Pavilion, a testament to the complete game put together by interim head coach Jeff Capel and his squad. The team’s first win against a ranked opponent in a true road matchup should provide a significant momentum boost heading into a three-game stretch at home that includes the Feb. 9 matchup against North Carolina. Duke showed remarkable composure in the face of adversity throughout its two-game stretch away from Cameron Indoor Stadium—a pleasant sign after the Blue Devils started ACC play 0-3 on the road.

Three key stats: 

  • Duke's 23-of-24 vs. Notre Dame's 19-of-28 from the charity stripe: The Fighting Irish had an opportunity to capitalize on another foul-heavy performance by the Blue Devils, but despite being the best free-throw shooting team in the conference at 81.5 percent, the home team could not take advantage. Duke—currently third in the ACC from the foul line—turned in one of its best free-throw shooting performances of the season, adding to an already-efficient 51.9 percent performance from the field.
  • Notre Dame finishes the first-half with just six points in the paint: There have been mainly valid questions surrounding Duke’s defense this season, in particular its ability to defend down low. Facing the ACC's leading rebounder in Colson and a Fighting Irish side that attacks the rim, averaging 34.3 points in the paint per game, the Blue Devils had faced a tough task Monday night. Duke proved it was up to the challenge, keeping the Notre Dame big man in check in the first half inside the painted area—a big reason the Blue Devils entered halftime with a 12-point lead.
  • Jayson Tatum records his first-career double-double: As one of the most highly touted players in his class, many thought that Tatum would dominate in his first and likely only season with the Blue Devils. Inconsistency and injuries, however, have marred the St. Louis native’s season, and there have been few times when the potential lottery pick has noticeably taken over games. Nevertheless, Tatum grabbed control on Monday night with 19 points and 14 rebounds, sitting out for only three minutes to recover from a hard fall after contact with Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia.  

Three key plays:

  • 8:23 remaining, first half: After shooting just 1-for-10 from the field and 1-of-8 from beyond arc Saturday at Wake Forest, senior captain Matt Jones showed no signs of hesitation in the early going Monday. Jones’ lone 3-pointer came a little more than midway through the first half, bringing the game to 19-19 and igniting a 21-6 run that would put the Blue Devils up 37-25 at the break.
  • 9:23 remaining, second half: After a dismal shooting performance in the first half, Notre Dame came out firing, connecting on 15 of its first 20 shots. Despite the onslaught, the Blue Devils managed to weather the storm. In a sequence reminiscent of what he showed against Miami, Jones stole the ball from Fighting Irish point guard Matt Farrell and calmly deposited a layup to extend the Blue Devil lead at 63-50, the largest lead of the half.
  • 5:22 remaining, second half: Duke maintained a comfortable lead throughout the early stages of the second half. A quick 12-0 run by the Irish, however, brought the score to 63-62 as the Blue Devils’ lead nearly evaporated entirely. That was until Grayson Allen knocked down a 3-pointer and then another jumper less than a minute later. In doing so, Allen not only put the Duke lead back up to six, he quelled a strong surge by Notre Dame. After that point, the Fighting Irish never closed the margin to less than a half-dozen and the Blue Devils closed the game for their 17th win of the season.

And the Duke game ball goes to… Jayson Tatum

The 6-foot-8 freshman flashed his true potential for the first time since early December, recording his first career double-double in 37 minutes of action. Tatum aggressively attacked the rim and finished with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He still needs to work on taking care of the ball, however—Tatum entered the game the team’s turnover leader at 2.7 per game and was responsible for five of the 15 Blue Devil turnovers Monday.

And the Notre Dame game ball goes to… Bonzie Colson 

Though Colson was outscored by fellow forward V.J. Beachem, the junior was a consistent force throughout the contest, whereas Beachem had noticeable hot and cold stretches. The junior ignited the crowd capping a pair of Fighting Irish runs and finished 8-for-12 from the floor in 34 minutes of action.

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